Christopher Schindler was the man who sent Huddersfield into the Premier League for the first time, the first division of English Football for the first time in four decades. David Wagner, Klopp’s apprentice, will now face his former boss in the Premier League next season. Meanwhile it was agony for Jaap Stam and Reading who missed their last two penalties, one blazed over from Liam Moore and a Jordan Obita penalty saved by Danny Ward. So up stepped the former 1860 Munich man, Schindler, to slot his spot-kick home and send half of Wembley, as well as a small town in Yorkshire, into ecstasy.
Huddersfield started the game quicker, stronger and more confident than Reading and squandered two huge opportunities before the 10 minute mark. First it was the big German Hefele who could not guide an Aaron Mooy free kick goalwards from in front of goal. Five minutes later, after good work from Elias Kachunga down the Huddersfield right, Izzy Brown poked agonisingly wide at the far post with the goal gaping. The Chelsea loanee continuing where his parent club left off at Wembley this week.
Reading were struggling to find their feet in the game, an isolated Lewis Grabban could not curl his effort into the far corner from a fair distance out, the only sight of goal for Reading in the early stages. Both teams’ high-press tactics ended up cancelling each other out for a period of the match. It was hotly contested in midfield but neither team could conjure up the necessary quality to make the breakthrough and so the game was goalless at the break.
The second half started much as the first did. There was an exciting succession of chances at either end, the first falling to Reading. John Swift found himself in space on the edge of the Huddersfield box but saw his low drive saved well by Danny Ward while immediately at the other end, Reading defender Van den Borg held off Izzy Brown and denied Nakhi Wells from close range to keep the scores level.
There were penalty shouts for both sides from tangling in the both boxes but both were turned down by referee Neil Swarbrick. The crowd seemed rejuvenated after a disappointing first half and it made for an electric atmosphere at Wembley. But in a similar way to the first half, chances became limited, as they were in both meetings between the teams this season, where the home team won 1-0 on both occasions.
Collin Quaner stumbled into a low cross that would’ve found its way to Nakhi Wells, who was in a much better position. The cross just ended up hitting the German striker and bobbled out for a goal kick. Hefele made another vital intervention to deny Yann Kermorgant at the near post as he stabbed the ball away from Chris Gunter’s cross. From the resulting corner, Jordan Obita found Tiago Ilori in yards of space in the Huddersfield box but the former Liverpool defender failed to control and Hefele cleared.
Terriers captain, Tom Smith, went to strike the ball but could only make contact with the flailing foot of Yann Kermorgant in a painful impact for Smith who was carried off the pitch on a stretcher. In stoppage time Reading broke down the left with McCleary who crossed to Gunter at the back post who headed over, lacking the required conviction to get the ball past his international team mate, Danny Ward in goal. And that’s how it continued until full time, another 30 minutes would follow.
As extra time went by, painfully, it looked more and more likely that this would be the first goalless Championship Play-Off Final, and so it ended. Hundreds of millions of pounds rested on a ball being kicked across 12 yards of grass. With a strong German contingent in the squad and a German manager, it was guaranteed that Huddersfield would win, wasn’t it?
What did you make of the final? Did Huddersfield deserve it? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Herry Lawford