Championship Review: Brighton promoted as Zola calls time on rotten reign
Brighton and Hove Albion are going to the Premier League, while while Gianfranco Zolacalled time a dreadful Birmingham City spell.
Brighton and Hove Albion secured promotion to the Premier League on Monday after a 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic and an expectant wait for Huddersfield Town's result.
The Championship leaders are assured of a seat at the top table thanks to Huddersfield's draw with Derby County, which came in the late kick-off, and victory against Norwich City on Friday will see Chris Hughton's side claim the title.
Newcastle United's position is less secure, though, with their defeat to Ipswich Town and Reading's win over Rotherham United meaning they are six points above Jaap Stam's men with three games to play.
Blackburn Rovers edged closer to escaping the drop thanks to their draw with Bristol City and a defeat for Nottingham Forest, while Birmingham City's loss to Burton Albion has left them looking over their shoulders and prompted Gianfranco Zola to resign.
1983 - Next season will see Brighton and Hove Albion play top-flight football for the first time since 1982-83. Ascension. pic.twitter.com/3iDuuQphY3— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 17, 2017
SEAGULLS SOAR INTO TOP FLIGHT
Brighton survived a late Wigan fightback to claim the win that has earned them promotion to the Premier League for the first time.
Goals from Glenn Murray and Solly March were enough for the leaders, despite a late strike from Nick Powell.
Brighton's goal difference of 37 made that win practically enough to guarantee their return to the top flight after 34 years, but Jacob Butterfield's 88th-minute equaliser for Derby against the Terriers made it mathematically certain.
Newcastle went down 3-1 to Ipswich, meaning Rafa Benitez's side remain under threat from Reading, who came from a goal down to beat already relegated Rotherham United 2-1 thanks to Lewis Grabban and John Swift.
LEEDS LABOURING IN PLAY-OFF CHASE
Daniel Pudil struck a first-half winner for Sheffield Wednesday as they saw off QPR 2-1 at Loftus Road to go fifth and remain in the driving seat for a play-off spot, having lost in the final last season.
Leeds United are out of the top six, however, by virtue of a shock 1-0 home defeat to Wolves, who secured their Championship status for another season thanks to Nouha Dicko's first-half strike.
Their play-off spot was claimed by Fulham, who kept up their entertaining season with a 3-1 win over 10-man Aston Villa, Ryan Sessegnon again among the goals.
Norwich City's hopes of a Premier League return are over by virtue of the result at Craven Cottage, but they did at least go out fighting, with Graham Dorrans, Josh Murphy and James Maddison getting the goals as they ended Preston North End's own play-off chase with a 3-1 win.
@GarryMonk “The situation is clear, we have spent a long time being the hunted and now we have to go on the hunt”— Leeds United (@LUFC) April 17, 2017
ZOLA STEPS DOWN AS FOREST KEEP FALLING
Zola quit as Birmingham boss after they lost 2-0 at home to Burton Albion – a result that leaves them just three points above the relegation zone.
Goals from Lloyd Dier and Lucas Akins saw Burton climb up to 19th and give their survival hopes a massive boost, and prompted plenty of home fans inside St Andrew's to make their displeasure known.
The Italian took over a side seventh in the table, but two wins in 24 matches has left the Blues in danger of relegation.
Nottingham Forest are also sliding precariously close to the drop, with Aron Gunnarsson's second-half goal seeing them slip to a 1-0 loss to Cardiff City, who climbed to 13th.
Blackburn Rovers are now only a point behind Forest, with Sam Gallagher's header earning a 1-1 draw with Bristol City, who have a four-point cushion on the bottom three.
In a match with relatively little at stake, 14th-placed Barnsley were held at Oakwell for the fifth game in a row, with 11th-placed Brentford claiming a 1-1 draw.
9% - Gianfranco Zola won just 9% of his Championship games in charge of Birmingham City (W2 D7 L13). Irretrievable. pic.twitter.com/sHYn9ohdAF— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 17, 2017