Championship roundup: Norwich underline their promotion credentials as Bournemouth lose ground

Football is full of exhausted clichés, and one you'll hear about 3000 times a season is 'playing badly but managing to grind out results is the hallmark of champions'.

And the most annoying thing about this phrase? It couldn't be more true - and that's exactly why Norwich are huge favourites to win the Championship crown.

Daniel Farke's side managed to secure the three points yet again this weekend, despite a spirited Cardiff City throwing everything at them in the second half.

Elsewhere, there were some huge wins at both ends of the table, and here's your complete roundup of the action from Saturday's second tier clashes...

1. Blackburn 1-1 Stoke

Stoke nearly took all three points from Ewood Park | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Stoke have been around the top six for a while now, though they've failed to really string a run of results together to cement their place in the play-off places.

Some good transfer business in recent weeks has set them up well for the remainder of the season, and they made a great start at Ewood Park after Nick Powell's strike gave them the lead just before half time.

However, Michael O'Neill's men fell apart late on, with John Buckley's first goal of the season drawing Blackburn level before James Chester was given his marching orders after he brought down Adam Armstrong.

The Potters held on for a point but they'll be disappointed not to have taken all three after leading for so long.

2. Bournemouth 0-1 Luton

Luton shocked Bournemouth | Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The race for second place is hotting up, and Bournemouth's bid to secure an automatic promotion place took a huge blow on Saturday.

Luton had mustered just one win in five league games prior to their trip to the Vitality Stadium, but Jefferson Lerma's red card just 26 minutes into the game handed Nathan Jones' side a glorious opportunity.

Lerma was given his marching orders after jumping for a header and catching Tom Lockyer in the face with his arm, though the Cherries have already confirmed they'll be appealing the decision.

Luton didn't let the chance pass them by, with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's strike midway through the second half enough to beat ten-man Bournemouth and edge the Hatters closer to the play-off places.

3. Bristol City 2-0 Preston

Bristol City got back to winning ways in the league | Alex Burstow/Getty Images

It's been a rocky season for Bristol City so far, with Dean Holden's men unable to find any real consistency.

A run of just one win in their previous five league games has seen their promotion credentials take a huge hit, so a 2-0 win over Preston came at the perfect time to remind the rest of the league they're still in the play-off mix.

Famara Diedhiou's future has been the centre of much speculation in recent weeks, with an extension on his current deal - which expires in the summer - yet to be agreed.

However, he was afforded a rare start against Preston and he didn't disappoint, with his 8th minute strike setting City on their way before Zack Vyner secured a 2-0 win.

4. Cardiff 1-2 Norwich

Norwich look hot favourites for the title | Athena Pictures/Getty Images

It's just beginning to look a bit obvious that Norwich are going to be a Premier League team again next season.

Farke's men continue to pick up wins despite not boasting a particularly impressive attacking or defensive record, yet their ability to edge games by a single goal means they remain top of the table.

First-half goals from Todd Cantwell and Grant Hanley secured an impressive win at the Cardiff City Stadium, with Joe Ralls strike midway through the second half not enough to prevent the Bluebirds slumping to a fifth consecutive defeat.

5. Derby 0-1 Rotherham

Wayne Rooney suffered defeat in his first game as permanent boss | Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Well isn't it just typical.

After impressing as interim boss alongside Liam Rosenior, Wayne Rooney's first game as permanent Derby boss ends in defeat against relegation rivals Rotherham.

The Rams will have fancied their chances going into this one, but Jamie Lindsay's 86th minute strike means the Millers leapfrog Derby in the table.

With at least two games in hand over the majority of the league, Rotherham have given themselves a great chance of survival, and this is a devastating defeat for Derby.

6. Nottingham Forest 3-1 Millwall

Nottingham Forest are distancing themselves from the bottom three | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

A huge win for Nottingham Forest.

When Chris Hughton arrived at the club, there was a general acceptance that - despite their worrying plight at the time - they'd definitely be safe.

However, the veteran tactician has struggled to consistently pick up points, though in recent weeks things have started to click and they look to be on the up.

Their comfortable 3-1 win over Millwall was their seventh game without defeat in all competitions, and more importantly it drags them up the table and away from the relegation zone.

A double from Sammy Ameobi and a late Ryan Yates goal saw Hughton's men pick up the win, with Gary Rowett's Millwall side beginning to look nervously over their shoulder.

7. Middlesbrough 0-1 Birmingham

Birmingham bagged a much-needed win at Middlesbrough | Stu Forster/Getty Images

If you put your ear to the window, you can probably just about hear Neil Warnock still shouting at his players in the Riverside Stadium dressing room.

Birmingham had mustered just two wins in 13 games prior to their trip to Teesside, yet a first-half strike from Scott Hogan was enough to bag the three points, leaving promotion-chasing Middlesbrough yet again ruing their inability to string a run of results together.

Birmingham move away from the relegation zone in what could prove to be a huge win for Aitor Karanka and his side.

8. Watford 2-0 Huddersfield

Watford triumphed over Huddersfield | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Watford have struggled of late - picking up just one win in their previous four Championship outings - so the visit of Huddersfield to Vicarage Road really was a must win if they're to challenge for the automatic promotion places.

Xisco Munoz picked up his second victory as Watford boss, with second-half strikes from Tom Cleverley and Joao Pedro securing the win.

Huddersfield offered very little in return and never looked like threatening Daniel Backman in the Hornets goal, with Carlos Corberan's men losing ground on the play-off contenders.

Source : 90min