Charlton promoted to the Sky Bet Championship after dramatic victory over Sunderland at Wembley.
By Simeon Gholam at Wembley
Last Updated: 26/05/19 5:51pm
Charlton pipped Sunderland at the death in the League One play-off final as Patrick Bauer’s 94th-minute strike earned them a 2-1 win at Wembley.
In the most dramatic finale, the defender poked home from close range to earn Charlton promotion to the Championship. They had initially fallen behind to Naby Sarr’s freak own goal after four minutes before levelling through Ben Purrington.
It earned Charlton a return to the second tier for the first time since 2016, while Sunderland’s hopes of promotion at the first attempt were blown apart right at the last.
All the talk pre-match had been about the classic 1998 Division One final as Charlton had won 7-6 on penalties following a 4-4 draw – and they may well be talking about the drama at the end of this one for another two decades to come as well.
Charlton made one change from their dramatic semi-final against Doncaster as Darren Pratley came into midfield. Sunderland were unchanged but Aiden McGeady was fit enough for the bench.
Charlton battle back from nightmare start
The opening goal was the most extraordinary gift for Sunderland.
Under no real pressure whatsoever, Sarr turned to lay a pass back to Dillon Phillips, but the goalkeeper failed to control the ball completely as it ran under his foot.
He scrambled back to try and salvage the situation, but his efforts were to no avail as the ball rolled over the line, leaving Wembley stunned.
Charlton rallied well and found the equaliser after 35 minutes. Lyle Taylor, who had gone close himself moments earlier, was the creator as his low ball across the six-yard box found Purrington, who could barely miss from close range.
Charlton: Phillips (5), Dijksteel (7), Bielik (8), Bauer (8), Sarr (3), Purrington (7), Pratley (6), Cullen (7), Aribo (7), Taylor (7), Parker (6)
Subs: Pearce (6), Williams (6)
Sunderland: McLaughlin (6), O’Nien (6), Flanagan (6), Ozturk (6), Oviedo (5), Leadbitter (6), Cattermole (6), Power (n/a), Honeyman (6), Maguire (5), Wyke (5)
Subs: Morgan (6), Grigg (5), McGeady (n/a)
Man of the match: Krystian Bielik
The second half was as tense as the first was open. Very little was created at either end, at least until Charlton’s dramatic winner.
Josh Cullen found space on the left to put a great ball into the middle for Bauer. His first attempt was blocked by Tom Flanagan but he wasn’t to be denied with the second, as he steered the ball in off the Sunderland defender to send the Charlton fans wild. The biggest sighs of relief, however, would have come from the mouths of Phillips and Sarr.
Man of the match – Krystian Bielik
Were you watching Unai Emery? Arsenal loanee Bielik has been a revelation for Charlton this season, playing both as a centre-back and in defensive midfield. He was a rock again for the Addicks and was key in helping them rediscover their composure after such a difficult start at Wembley.
Lee Bowyer: “It hasn’t sunk in yet. All I’m seeing is all these proud people. I’m so proud of my players. They just keep going and going. I said it in the semi-finals – they give me everything. A unique group of players and this crowd to bring this all together – it has been some season.
“This is probably the proudest moment of my whole career – I’m delighted for this club. It showed our character to come from behind and score at the death there.”
Charlton will play in the Sky Bet Championship next season while Sunderland will remain in League One for the 2019/20 season, which gets underway over the weekend of 2-4 August.