Nottingham Forest have been promoted to the Premier League after beating Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final.
An own goal from Levi Colwill proved the difference as Forest ended their 23-year exile from the top-flight with a 1-0 victory at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It also capped a stunning turnaround this season for the club, who were bottom of the table when Steve Cooper took over at the City Ground in September.
Their fans are now looking ahead to their first Premier League campaign since the 1998/99 season after seeing Forest come out on top in a tense affair at the national stadium.
Forest dominated the first half at Wembley and their pressure ultimately told in the closing stages of the half as they took a deserved lead.
Manchester United loanee James Garner’s dangerous cross bounced up in front of Huddersfield defender Colwill, who saw his swiped clearance rocket into the top corner.
Forest midfielder Ryan Yates had darted across Colwill as the cross came in but was unable to connect, with Garner’s cross already on course to find the bottom corner.
Huddersfield had looked a threat on the counter attack at times during the opening 45 minutes but were unable to carve out any clear cut opportunities in front of goal.
Carlos Corberan’s Terriers emerged from the interval with a greater sense of urgency than the first half as they chased an equaliser, enjoying far more of the ball in attacking areas after half-time.
Despite the added pressure from Huddersfield, Forest continued to have the better of the chances, with Brennan Johnson dragging the ball wide from the corner of the box with 20 minutes left to play as his side pushed for a second.
Johnson was almost made to rue his missed opportunity moments later when Harry Toffolo went down in the penalty area after a challenge from Jack Colback.
However, referee Jonathan Moss adjudged he had dived and booked the Huddersfield full-back after a VAR check had concluded the on-field decision was correct.
VAR had been put in place for the final, having usually been reserved solely for Premier League and domestic cup matches, in line with the other Football League play-off finals.
Huddersfield had another penalty shout waved away inside the final 10 minutes when Lewis O’Brien hit the deck after a tangle of legs with Max Lowe.
On that occasion, no VAR check was carried out to take a closer look at the incident, despite the clear contact between the two players, with Corberan seen contesting the decision in animated fashion in his technical area.
Ultimately, though, Huddersfield were unable to find an equaliser and missed out on a return to the top flight after three years away, with the final place in the 2022/23 Premier League season going to Forest.
Speaking after the match, Forest captain Joe Worrall heaped praise on his team-mates, telling Sky Sports: “I’m just so proud of the players, staff, fans. We’ve been fantastic all season – we were really unlucky to not go up automatically. We’ve played with honesty and we play football the right way.”
Worrall will now look ahead to facing the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City next season as the two-time European champions return to the Premier League after more than two decades away.