Middlesbrough 0 Coventry 1 (0-1): Sky Blues edge closer to Premier League return as Hamer’s strike downs Carrick’s side


GUSTAVO HAMER produced a moment of Premier League quality that took Coventry within 90 minutes of ending their 22-year exile from the top flight.

The Sky Blues had not even registered a single shot on target but they were ruthless when their first one finally arrived.

PACoventry will play against Luton in the Championship play-off final[/caption]

ReutersGustavo Hamer scored the only goal of the two-legged semi-final against Middlesbrough[/caption]


— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 17, 2023

Swedish ace Viktor Gyokeres broke free and lobbed the ball over the advancing keeper Zack Steffen.

It broke to Hamer but three Boro players had managed to position themselves between him and the goal.

But the Coventry midfielder smashed a brilliant shot into the top right corner.

Just like on Tuesday night when Luton booked their place in the final after beating Sunderland just nine years after they were playing in non-league, the Sky Blues making next Saturday’s Championship showpiece is a great story.

Just five years ago, Coventry were playing in League Two… and their rise under boss Mark Robins has been nothing short of remarkable.

And they deserved it tonight. It is fair to say they did not set things alight in the first half — but then again neither did Boro.

But they upped the gears after the break and should have won by a more comfortable margin — with Hamer also striking the crossbar.

Alex Crooks thought he had levelled at the death but had his header rightly ruled out for offside.


Boro almost had a good early opportunity when Ryan Giles teed up Cameron Archer — but rather than shoot he tried to take the ball on to his left foot and the ball was cleared.

But — although Boro had started on the front foot — Coventry were almost gifted an opener.

Tommy Smith attempted to pass the ball back to Steffen — but Gyokeres was alert and nipped in and almost rolled the ball past the keeper, who just managed to block.

Middlesbrough kept pushing forward and Riley McGree saw a driven effort deflect wide for a corner.

A shooting chance opened up for Jamie Allen but just as he was about to fire goalwards Giles pick-pocketed him and cleared.

Gyokeres dummied the ball to allow the ball to go beyond Paddy McNair but just as the Coventry ace was about to break clear he was hauled to the floor by his opponent. Ref David Coote duly booked the Boro man.

And just before the break, Boro registered the first effort on target when Darragh Lenihan got on the end of a corner but his header was straight at Ben Wilson.

Alex Crooks headed in but the goal was ruled out for offsideRex

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PAMiddlesbrough were unable to score in either leg[/caption]

Coventry came out of the blocks quickly after the break.

And after pressing the ball and winning possession, Ben Sheaf broke into the Boro box but failed to make decent contact as he shot across goal.

Because the ball was so badly struck, it fell to Allen and he also mishit his effort. It was a huge chance missed.

But the Sky Blues moved in front.

Gyokeres broke through and lobbed the ball over the onrushing Steffen.

Three Boro players managed to get back between the ball and the goal.

Hamer picked it up and thrashed a superb shot into the top right corner.

Allen almost doubled the advantage as he broke free down the right after being put through by Gyokeres.

But he struck his effort awfully and Lenihan was just able to scramble the ball clear.

Michael Carrick had seen enough and opted to make a treble change as he looked to roll the die.

Alex Mowatt, Marcus Forss and Tommy Smith were all hooked, with Dan Barlaser, Isaiah Jones and Anfernee Dijksteel all coming on.

But it was Coventry who were looking more fresh and lively — and they were denied a second by the paintwork.

After Lenihan hacked down Gyokeres just outside the box, Hamer superbly struck the resulting free-kick over the wall but it crashed back off the crossbar.

Mowatt thought he had sprung the offside trap when he headed home but the assistant ref rightly flagged as he was at least a yard off.

To add more drama, the fourth official held up the board to indicate EIGHT MINUTES of stoppage time.

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And Archer slammed the bar from just three yards after a Crooks flick on — although the assistant once again raised his flag.

Coventry clung on — sparking jubilant scenes as the players celebrated with their fans.

The season ended in disappointment for Michael CarrickReuters

ReutersBen Wilson made a key save to keep the scores level at 0-0[/caption]

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