MiddlesbroughMiddlesbrough1BrightonBrighton & Hove Albion1

Middlesbrough 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

By Matt NewsumBBC Sport at the Riverside Stadium
Cristhian Stuani
Cristhian Stuani's first-half tap-in put Middlesbrough in the driving seat against Brighton

Middlesbrough ended their seven-year Premier League absence by drawing a tense and nervy Championship promotion decider against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Riverside.

Both sides began the game knowing that victory would see them join champions Burnley in the top flight next season, though a draw was enough for Boro to pip the Seagulls to second place on goal difference.

Cristhian Stuani's goal, from Gaston Ramirez's superb free-kick and David Nugent's touch across, put the hosts on their way in the first half.

Another free-kick led to Dale Stephens' equaliser, heading across goal at the back post after Brighton had begun the second period in full flow.

But Stephens was then dismissed for a foul on Ramirez - and Boro made the man advantage count to retain the scoreline for the rest of the game, including eight minutes of added time.

The point worth £170m

Middlesbrough fans
Middlesbrough fans invaded the Riverside pitch at the end of the game to celebrate promotion

There was no end-of-season sunshine for the packed crowd at the Riverside, as a chilly, murky day greeted the two teams at kick-off - thank goodness then for the red-hot atmosphere in the ground.

Boro struck through Stuani and then soaked up Brighton's attempts and threatened on the break, with Uruguay international Ramirez hugely influential before he was withdrawn on a stretcher with a serious-looking leg injury.

Stuani, a compatriot of the Southampton loanee, could have had a hat-trick but saw a half-volley deflected over the top and then wasted a fine chance.

The Seagulls showed glimpses of their threat in the opening 45 minutes but playmaker Beram Kayal was kept quiet and their forward line was well marshalled, in particular by Daniel Ayala.

The visitors emerged with more potency after the break and Stephens' header gave them hope, before the midfielder was then sent off for a fierce tackle on Ramirez just four minutes later.

Boro lacked composure without their playmaker and Brighton, desperate for a goal, created spells of pressure but again Ayala, Ben Gibson and George Friend made big interventions.

Albert Adomah struck his point-blank shot at David Stockdale as Boro sought the goal to make sure, but it did not matter in the end as the whistle blew to spark scenes of celebration and relief at the end of a sapping, absorbing game.

Gibson's gamble pays off

Cristhian Stuani
Stuani celebrates the goal that sent Boro on their way to promotion back to the Premier League

The decision by chairman Steve Gibson to invest in playing staff for head coach Aitor Karanka was justified as two of the imports he helped finance came to the fore in Stuani and Ramirez.

It was Gibson's intervention 30 years ago that scraped the club off the canvas with extinction looming and his name was sung lustily by supporters before and during the game.

He oversaw the 2004 League Cup win at Cardiff and the run to the Uefa Cup final two years later, but few afternoons at the Riverside will have been as significant as this one.

Premier League money, a minimum of £170m, will prove hugely beneficial to a club that have faced tough economic times in their transition to the Championship.

What next for Albion?

Brighton supporters
Brighton will now face Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs, with the first leg at Hillsborough on Friday, 13 May

It was always going to be tough to turn up and win on Teesside, where only Bristol City and Nottingham Forest had triumphed in the league this season.

However, Brighton still have another chance against Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs - albeit without Stephens, who will serve a suspension for his red card.

The Seagulls, like their opponents, know the misery of play-off defeat well having been dumped out by rivals Crystal Palace three seasons ago, and then again by Derby the following season.

It will need to be third time lucky if they are to end their 33-year exile from the top flight.

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Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Konstantopoulos
  • 24Nsue
  • 4Ayala
  • 6Gibson
  • 3Friend
  • 8Clayton
  • 7Leadbitter
  • 18Stuani
  • 21RamírezSubstituted forDowningat 63'minutes
  • 27Adomah
  • 35NugentSubstituted forRhodesat 80'minutes


  • 5de Laet
  • 9Rhodes
  • 16de Sart
  • 19Downing
  • 25Agazzi
  • 26Kalas
  • 34Forshaw


Formation 4-4-2

  • 13Stockdale
  • 2BrunoBooked at 90mins
  • 17GoldsonBooked at 90mins
  • 3GreerSubstituted forLua Luaat 82'minutes
  • 23Rosenior
  • 27KnockaertBooked at 23mins
  • 6StephensBooked at 59mins
  • 7Kayal
  • 15MurphySubstituted forSidwellat 64'minutes
  • 10Hemed
  • 9BaldockSubstituted forWilsonat 45'minutes


  • 1Mäenpää
  • 12Bong
  • 14Calderon
  • 21Wilson
  • 30Lua Lua
  • 36Sidwell
  • 38Skalak
Mike Dean

Match Stats

Home TeamMiddlesbroughAway TeamBrighton
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Middlesbrough 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

  3. Booking

    Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card.

  4. Booking

    Connor Goldson (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card.

  5. Post update

    Attempt missed. Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Stewart Downing.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Tomer Hemed (Brighton and Hove Albion).

  7. Post update

    Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Offside, Middlesbrough. Stewart Downing tries a through ball, but George Friend is caught offside.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion).

  10. Post update

    Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Tomer Hemed (Brighton and Hove Albion).

  12. Post update

    Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right is saved in the top right corner.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Kazenga Lua Lua (Brighton and Hove Albion).

  15. Post update

    Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Beram Kayal (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom left corner.

  19. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cristhian Stuani.

  20. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.


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