League One - Play-off Final
SunderlandSunderland2WycombeWycombe Wanderers0

Sunderland 2-0 Wycombe Wanderers: Black Cats win League One play-off final at Wembley

By Chris PeddyBBC Sport at Wembley
Sunderland players celebrate with the trophy
Sunderland will play Championship football next season for the first time since they were relegated in 2017-18

Sunderland clinched promotion to the Championship as goals from Elliot Embleton and Ross Stewart gave them victory over Wycombe in the League One play-final at Wembley.

Embleton's 12th-minute strike put the Black Cats ahead as they dominated the match from the beginning.

His blasted effort from outside the area went straight through Wycombe keeper David Stockdale, who then made a string of saves to keep the score at 1-0.

Ross Stewart's 26th goal of the season - his fifth against Wycombe - gave Sunderland a cushion with 11 minutes to go, as they saw out the game to join Wigan and Rotherham in the second tier next season.

Sunderland fans made the trip down in numbers for the final, filling their end and even using some of the top two tiers in the Wycombe half, and it was the north-east side who started brighter, with Alex Pritchard sending a fierce free-kick into the side netting.

They did not need to wait long for the opener and it was one for Stockdale to forget, with Embleton collecting the ball near the halfway line and charging at the Wycombe defence.

Ryan Tafazolli stood off him and he took advantage of the space, smashing a shot goalward which hit Stockdale on the shoulder and went in before he could react.

Stockdale did well to keep out efforts from Pritchard and Stewart as Sunderland looked likely to add to their early goal.

Substitute Brandon Hanlon burst down the left for Wycombe but his shot was tame and easily collected by keeper Anthony Patterson, who also denied Sam Vokes.

Stewart made the result safe when he received the ball on the edge of the area and sent a neat right-foot finish into the bottom-left corner past Stockdale.

Veteran striker Adebayo Akinfenwa came on for Wycombe 15 minutes from time in the final game of his career, but the 40-year-old was unable to change the outcome.

Elliot Embleton scores for Sunderland
Elliot Embleton scored his ninth goal of the season for Sunderland

Sunderland celebrate after six long seasons

The sense of relief and jubilation amongst the Sunderland fans when Stewart's shot nestled in the back of the net was palpable.

Finally, after six long years, they have something to cheer.

Consecutive relegations saw the club fall from England's top tier to the third in just a year, and that is where they have remained.

But they put on a real show in front of their fans, dominating the match from start to finish and thoroughly deserving a place in next season's Championship.

Named man of the match at Wembley, Alex Pritchard was immense, claiming two assists and stringing together attack after attack.

Patrick Roberts' jinking runs from the right side were a constant threat, while Embleton and Stewart were on the mark when it mattered for Alex Neil's men.

The atmosphere generated was incredible. Those supporters will enjoy their night in London and the Stadium of Light will be an intimidating place for their Championship rivals next season.

Adebayo Akinfenwa comes on for the final match of his career
Adebayo Akinfenwa comes on for the final match of his career

No fairytale end for Akinfenwa and Wycombe

It seemed like destiny.

Akinfenwa - aged 40 and in the final appearance of his long career - coming off the bench to send his team back to the Championship after a year in League One.

It would have been the perfect parting gift and a beautiful end to his playing career.

But it was not to be, and in truth, never looked likely.

Gareth Ainsworth's Chairboys were defensively magnificent in their semi-final second leg against MK Dons, surviving a 90-minute onslaught and progressing to the final despite a 1-0 defeat.

The final at Wembley had a similar feel in the opening stages, as Sunderland took the initiative and Wycombe struggled to get a foothold in the game.

'The Beast', as he is known affectionately among his team-mates and the Wycombe fans, did make it on for the final stages, but Stewart's goal crushed Wycombe's hopes of a comeback.

Akinfenwa applauded the fans after the final whistle with his team-mates at the end of a terrific season.

He will miss them just as much as they will miss him.

Player of the match

AkinfenwaAdebayo Akinfenwa

with an average of 7.74

Sunderland

  1. Squad number21Player namePritchard
    Average rating

    7.41

  2. Squad number14Player nameStewart
    Average rating

    7.22

  3. Squad number8Player nameEmbleton
    Average rating

    7.17

  4. Squad number77Player nameRoberts
    Average rating

    6.94

  5. Squad number6Player nameDoyle
    Average rating

    6.91

  6. Squad number25Player nameClarke
    Average rating

    6.70

  7. Squad number9Player nameBroadhead
    Average rating

    6.66

  8. Squad number4Player nameEvans
    Average rating

    6.62

  9. Squad number20Player namePatterson
    Average rating

    6.57

  10. Squad number26Player nameWright
    Average rating

    6.57

  11. Squad number5Player nameBatth
    Average rating

    6.48

  12. Squad number11Player nameGooch
    Average rating

    6.45

  13. Squad number13Player nameO'Nien
    Average rating

    6.43

  14. Squad number17Player nameCirkin
    Average rating

    6.34

Wycombe Wanderers

  1. Squad number20Player nameAkinfenwa
    Average rating

    7.74

  2. Squad number6Player nameTafazolli
    Average rating

    6.12

  3. Squad number9Player nameVokes
    Average rating

    6.06

  4. Squad number23Player nameObita
    Average rating

    6.06

  5. Squad number17Player nameHorgan
    Average rating

    6.01

  6. Squad number12Player nameMcCleary
    Average rating

    5.98

  7. Squad number4Player nameGape
    Average rating

    5.90

  8. Squad number28Player nameScowen
    Average rating

    5.84

  9. Squad number3Player nameJacobson
    Average rating

    5.83

  10. Squad number5Player nameStewart
    Average rating

    5.82

  11. Squad number26Player nameMcCarthy
    Average rating

    5.79

  12. Squad number18Player nameHanlan
    Average rating

    5.67

  13. Squad number11Player nameWing
    Average rating

    5.59

  14. Squad number13Player nameStockdale
    Average rating

    5.41

Line-ups

Sunderland

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 20Patterson
  • 11Gooch
  • 26Wright
  • 5Batth
  • 17CirkinBooked at 46mins
  • 4Evans
  • 13O'Nien
  • 77Roberts
  • 21PritchardBooked at 75minsSubstituted forDoyleat 81'minutes
  • 8EmbletonSubstituted forClarkeat 61'minutes
  • 14StewartSubstituted forBroadheadat 88'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Doyle
  • 9Broadhead
  • 24Neil
  • 25Clarke
  • 27Matete
  • 28McGeady
  • 39Hoffmann

Wycombe

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 13Stockdale
  • 26McCarthy
  • 5Stewart
  • 6Tafazolli
  • 3Jacobson
  • 28Scowen
  • 17HorganSubstituted forWingat 55'minutes
  • 12McCleary
  • 4GapeSubstituted forAkinfenwaat 75'minutes
  • 23ObitaSubstituted forHanlanat 65'minutes
  • 9Vokes

Substitutes

  • 2Grimmer
  • 7Wheeler
  • 11Wing
  • 18Hanlan
  • 20Akinfenwa
  • 30Dickinson
  • 38Forino
Referee:
Simon Hooper
Attendance:
72,332

Match Stats

Home TeamSunderlandAway TeamWycombe
Possession
Home49%
Away51%
Shots
Home13
Away6
Shots on Target
Home5
Away3
Corners
Home4
Away1
Fouls
Home9
Away8

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Sunderland 2, Wycombe Wanderers 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Sunderland 2, Wycombe Wanderers 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jack Clarke (Sunderland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  4. Post update

    Attempt saved. Adebayo Akinfenwa (Wycombe Wanderers) left footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Garath McCleary with a cross.

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, Sunderland. Nathan Broadhead replaces Ross Stewart.

  6. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Garath McCleary (Wycombe Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Brandon Hanlan.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Wycombe Wanderers. Conceded by Corry Evans.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Josh Scowen (Wycombe Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Patrick Roberts (Sunderland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Lynden Gooch with a through ball following a fast break.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ross Stewart (Sunderland) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jack Clarke.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Corry Evans (Sunderland).

  12. Post update

    Lewis Wing (Wycombe Wanderers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Sunderland. Callum Doyle replaces Alex Pritchard.

  14. Goal!

    Goal! Sunderland 2, Wycombe Wanderers 0. Ross Stewart (Sunderland) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alex Pritchard.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Brandon Hanlan (Wycombe Wanderers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  16. Post update

    Offside, Wycombe Wanderers. Joe Jacobson tries a through ball, but Sam Vokes is caught offside.

  17. Booking

    Alex Pritchard (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Alex Pritchard (Sunderland).

  19. Post update

    Josh Scowen (Wycombe Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Wycombe Wanderers. Adebayo Akinfenwa replaces Dominic Gape because of an injury.

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