Norwich City secured an instant return to the Premier League with victory over Middlesbrough in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

In a match worth a potential £120m to the victors, Cameron Jerome took advantage of a Daniel Ayala error to slot the Canaries ahead.

It was 2-0 after 15 minutes when Nathan Redmond arrowed a shot into the corner.

Jelle Vossen came closest for Boro when he struck the bar, but their six-year absence from the top flight continues.

Victory for the Canaries in front of more than 85,000 fans is the culmination of a remarkable run of results under manager Alex Neil.

The 33-year-old was unheralded in England, but presided over Hamilton’s promotion to the Scottish Premiership last season. That was enough for him to be given the chance to replace Neil Adams at Carrow Road in January, with the club seventh in the table and three points off the play-offs.

Neil oversaw victory in his maiden game in charge against eventual league champions Bournemouth, the first of 17 wins in 25 games during his tenure, and will now become the youngest manager in England’s top flight.

Wembley pain for Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough have failed to win on each of their five visits to Wembley

For his opposite number Aitor Karanka and Boro, though, it ends a season that had promised so much, built on the meanest defence in the league, conceding 37 goals in 46 games.

Karanka, the former assistant manager to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, has also seen a great deal of improvement during his 18 months in charge after taking over from Tony Mowbray in November 2013 with the side 16th in the table.

But, in a game dubbed the ‘richest in football’, his side fell short thanks to three first-half minutes when Norwich scored twice.

Given the weight of pressure, it was an understandably nervy opening but the game sprang into life when both sides hit the crossbar within 30 seconds of each other.

First, Norwich midfielder Bradley Johnson powered a left-foot volley against the bar, only for Boro to go straight down the other end and rattle the woodwork themselves with Vossen’s delightful long-range effort.

Nathan Redmond and Cameron Jerome

Ex-Birmingham City duo Nathan Redmond and Cameron Jerome put Norwich 2-0 up inside 15 minutes

Boro had arrived to Wembley late after being stuck in traffic, and their lack of preparation time may well have had a hand in gifting Norwich the opening goal.

Ex-Canaries defender Ayala dithered on the ball down their right, allowing Norwich top scorer Jerome to nick it off him, run into the area and calmly slot past Dimi Konstantopoulos at his near post for his 21st of the season.

And only three minutes later, Norwich, unbeaten on the road under Neil, were 2-0 up against a side who had kept 22 clean sheets this campaign.

Steven Whittaker played a great ball into the channel for Redmond and the England Under-21 winger struck home a low effort past a despairing Konstantopoulos to send one end of Wembley into an unexpectedly early ecstasy.

Boro struggled to get any sort of foothold in the game, so at half-time Karanka brought off right-back Dean Whitehead for forward Emilio Nsue.

Norwich had kept Championship player of the year Patrick Bamford quiet for the first hour, but his turn and shot was the first real test for keeper John Ruddy.

Boro’s main threat came from Albert Adomah down the right, but Norwich’s central defensive partnership of Sebastien Bassong and captain Russell Martin dealt with every ball into the middle.

It was in fact Norwich who went closest to getting a third when Redmond fired just wide from a free-kick on the edge of the box.

Bamford then had the chance to pull one back but Scotland international Martin cleared his centre, and Norwich held on to return to the top flight.

Cameron Jerome scores for Norwich

Jerome stroked Norwich ahead in the 12th minute after robbing Daniel Ayala

Nathan Redmond doubled the Canaries' lead with a low right-foot drive

Nathan Redmond doubled the Canaries’ lead with a low right-foot drive

Nathan Redmond celebrates

Redmond’s strike was only his sixth of the season but third in his last four games

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (5)

Middlesbrough

  • 13 Konstantopoulos
  • 18 Whitehead (Nsue Lopez – 45′ )
  • 04 Ayala
  • 06 Gibson
  • 03 Friend
  • 08 Clayton
  • 07 Leadbitter
  • 27 Adomah
  • 21 Vossen Booked (Garcia Martinez – 68′ )
  • 10 Tomlin
  • 23 Bamford

Substitutes

  • 09 Garcia Martinez
  • 12 Ripley
  • 20 Reach
  • 24 Nsue Lopez
  • 29 Amorebieta
  • 34 Forshaw
  • 39 Woodgate

Norwich City

  • 01 Ruddy
  • 02 Whittaker
  • 05 Martin
  • 30 Bassong
  • 23 Olsson
  • 22 Redmond (O’Neil – 87′ )
  • 08 Howson Booked
  • 27 Tettey
  • 04 Johnson
  • 14 Hoolahan (Dorrans – 75′ )
  • 10 Jerome (Grabban – 74′ )

Substitutes

  • 07 Grabban
  • 11 Hooper
  • 17 E Bennett
  • 24 R Bennett
  • 26 Rudd
  • 28 O’Neil
  • 41 Dorrans
Ref: Mike Dean
Att: 85,656

Match Stats

Possession

57 43

Shots

8 7

On target

1 4

Corners

6 2

Fouls

8 5

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Middlesbrough 0, Norwich City 2.

90:00 +4:00 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 0, Norwich City 2.

90:00 +2:40

Attempt saved. Gary O’Neil (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

89:35

Offside, Middlesbrough. Kike tries a through ball, but Patrick Bamford is caught offside.

86:28 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Norwich City. Gary O’Neil replaces Nathan Redmond.

85:30

Foul by Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough).

85:30

Sebastien Bassong (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:27

Attempt blocked. Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter with a cross.

81:03

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Sebastien Bassong.

78:09

Attempt missed. Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top left corner from a direct free kick.

77:20

Foul by Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough).

77:20

Graham Dorrans (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

74:15 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Norwich City. Graham Dorrans replaces Wes Hoolahan.

73:58 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Norwich City. Lewis Grabban replaces Cameron Jerome.

69:47

Attempt blocked. Kike (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Emilio Nsue Lopez.

68:13

Attempt missed. Russell Martin (Norwich City) header from very close range is too high. Assisted by Nathan Redmond with a cross following a corner.

67:54 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Middlesbrough. Kike replaces Jelle Vossen.

67:24

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Ben Gibson.

65:28

Foul by Jelle Vossen (Middlesbrough).

65:28

Martin Olsson (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

61:51 Booking

Booking Jonny Howson (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

61:50

Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

61:50

Foul by Jonny Howson (Norwich City).

59:57

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Ben Gibson.

58:19

Attempt saved. Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lee Tomlin.

55:44 Booking

Booking Jelle Vossen (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card.

55:40

Jelle Vossen (Middlesbrough) has gone down, but that’s a dive.

53:30

Attempt missed. Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter with a cross following a corner.

53:12

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Jonny Howson.

51:59

Offside, Norwich City. Martin Olsson tries a through ball, but Cameron Jerome is caught offside.

49:45

Attempt missed. Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter with a cross following a corner.

49:19

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Sebastien Bassong.

47:58

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

47:23

Delay in match Bradley Johnson (Norwich City) because of an injury.

46:17

Attempt saved. Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

45:00

Second Half begins Middlesbrough 0, Norwich City 2.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Middlesbrough. Emilio Nsue Lopez replaces Dean Whitehead.

45:00 +2:11 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Middlesbrough 0, Norwich City 2.

43:42

Foul by Russell Martin (Norwich City).

43:42

Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

43:04

Steven Whittaker (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

43:04

Foul by Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough).

36:39

Attempt missed. Jelle Vossen (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter with a cross following a corner.

36:22

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Steven Whittaker.

35:54

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Steven Whittaker.

34:59

Hand ball by Sebastien Bassong (Norwich City).

31:55

Jelle Vossen (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

31:55

Foul by Alexander Tettey (Norwich City).

30:45

Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).

30:45

Cameron Jerome (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

26:39

Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

26:39

Foul by Alexander Tettey (Norwich City).

24:50

Attempt missed. Jelle Vossen (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by George Friend with a cross.

21:57

Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Jonny Howson.

18:00

Foul by Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough).

18:00

Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

17:07

Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).

17:07

Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

14:44 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Middlesbrough 0, Norwich City 2. Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Steven Whittaker.

11:16 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Middlesbrough 0, Norwich City 1. Cameron Jerome (Norwich City) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box to the bottom left corner.

9:13

Jelle Vossen (Middlesbrough) hits the bar with a right footed shot from outside the box.

8:42

Bradley Johnson (Norwich City) hits the bar with a left footed shot from the centre of the box.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers