‘Put that in their pipe’ - Sunderland boss Alex Neil on beating Sheffield Wednesday to play-off final

Sunderland were the better team and deserved to overcome Sheffield Wednesday in the semi-final of the League One play-offs, according to Alex Neil.

Monday, 9th May 2022, 11:15 pm

The Black Cats booked their place in the final following a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough, which saw them progress thanks to a 2-1 aggregate scoreline after their 1-0 win in the first leg.

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“If I'm honest I'm just so pleased for the players, because they do get written off. People talked about coming here, Sheffield Wednesday being favourites. So they can put that in their pipe,” said Neil.

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Sunderland manager Alex Neil celebrates victory at the end of the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg match between Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland at Hillsborough on May 09, 2022 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

“It was no more than we deserved.

"We switched off once in the game and we got punished for it. Other than that, I thought we defended extremely well, but we didn’t set out to be defensive.

"I thought we were the better team. I didn’t think we deserved to be trailing.”

Sheffield Wednesday managed just four attempts on goal across the two legs but gave themselves a chance when Lee Gregory finished from close range, sending a sold-out Hillsborough into raptures.

The goal sent Hillsborough into raptures and seemed to re-energise the Owls and their fans.

They looked the more likely to go on and find a winner, only for Patrick Roberts’s stoppage-time goal to condemn them to a second season in the third tier.

“I’m just over the moon for the players because they deserve it,” added Neil, whose side are now unbeaten in 15 matches.

"We are always questioned as a team; can Sunderland do it? All this sort of palava. At the end of the day we deserve it. We have done the business, we are on an unbelievable run of fixtures in terms of the results we’ve put together.”

Sunderland upset the odds

Sunderland will meet Wycombe Wanderers, who overcame MK Dons in the other semi-final, at Wembley on Saturday, 21 May.

The pair had been third and fourth favourites respectively to gain promotion via the play-offs behind the Owls and Liam Manning’s MK.

But Sunderland were the form team heading into the end-of-season knockouts.

They have been beaten just once in the 17 games since former Norwich and Preston North End chief Neil took over on Wearside following Lee Johnson’s dismissal in January.

He said: “I was so pleased for the players tonight. They do get written off.

"I can’t remember how many people I’ve seen tipping Sheffield Wednesday as favourites, so they can put that in their pipe.”