Ipswich Town turn on swagger as they beat Huddersfield to return to Premier League

Kieran McKenna's side promoted as Leeds United, Southampton, Norwich City and West Brom make play-offs

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Ipswich Town brushed aside Huddersfield 2-0 on Saturday to make a swaggering return to the Premier League after an absence of 23 years.

There were euphoric scenes at the final whistle as Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna and his players were engulfed by fans waving blue flags and flares on the pitch at Portman Road.

Goals from Wes Burns and Omari Hutchinson were enough to clinch the Championship's second automatic promotion place for McKenna's side. They will join champions Leicester City in the top flight exit season.

The result sent Huddersfield down into League One alongside Rotherham United and Birmingham City.

Leeds United, Southampton, West Brom and Ipswich's fierce East Anglian rivals Norwich go into the play-offs.

After the game, McKenna said: "You've seen how much it means to the players and the supporters. It's absolutely massive – a wonderful day and I'm very, very proud of everyone involved.

"It's a wonderful achievement and I'm sure it will sink in over the next few days. The Premier League will be a great challenge and one I'm looking forward to.

"There have been some giants of the game in my shoes and I'm just proud to follow them up."

Goalscorer Burns said: "Honestly, I can't even put it into words what this means. The group of lads have given everything over the course of the season. It's incredible what we've done. I can't wait to celebrate into the night now."

Forward George Hirst said: "This is a dream for me. It's why I wanted to come here so badly. I saw the potential and I knew this was possible. This is something that you'll never ever forget."

The club's illustrious former managers include England World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson – who led the Three Lions to the World Cup semi-finals in 1990.

The latest to etch his name in Portman Road history is former Manchester United first-team coach McKenna.

The Northern Irishman took over the reins in December 2021 and broke several club records as he got them promoted from League One in his first full season.

Since the inception of the Premier League, Ipswich have become only the fifth side to earn promotion from the third tier to the top flight.

McKenna's 57.8 per cent win rate is fifth behind only Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Jurgen Klopp and Unai Emery in English League football.

Mick Mills, former England international and Ipswich captain when they won the 1978 FA Cup and 1981 Uefa Cup under Robson, said: "It's fantastic scenes. I was feeling sorry for Kieran McKenna because he was being engulfed by fans. This is one hell of a picture; the blue smoke, the supporters.

"I'm absolutely delighted. I thought when we got stuck in division one for four years, I wondered if we would ever come back for the Premier League. I grew up linking them to the top level.

"We are going to big, big places. That's where we deserve to be, that's where we should be, that's what the management and the players have given to us.

"My words for Kieran McKenna – thank you."

McKenna's slick, attacking brand of possession football has also earned him praise from England legends and BBC Match of the Day pundits Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer, who described him as the best manager outside the Premier League.

Lifelong Ipswich supporter Andy Cutler said: "Great to return to the top flight, stay with us Mr McKenna because you can take us into Europe. He can take us into the top six. He's absolutely brilliant.

"He could match the two best football managers we've ever had. I know we've had a big injection of money but it's down to him."

George Burley was the last manager to take Ipswich into the top flight in 2000. They finished fifth in their first season but were relegated in 2002 and later went into financial administration.

The East Anglian club, known as the Tractor Boys because of Suffolk's agricultural heritage, had several near misses before Burns opened the scoring after 27 minutes.

Hutchinson then scored with a superb finish after a solo run from outside the box on 48 minutes.

Leeds United, who had a slim hope of clinching the second automatic promotion place if Ipswich lost against Huddersfield, were beaten 2-1 by Southampton at Elland Road.

West Brom beat Preston North End 3-0, while Norwich secured a play-off spot despite losing 1-0 to Birmingham.

Updated: May 04, 2024, 3:47 PM