Championship Review: Cardiff promoted as Bolton leave it late to survive
Cardiff City secured promotion to the Premier League after nearest rivals Fulham slipped up at Birmingham City on a dramatic final day of the Championship season.
Neil Warnock's side knew a home win over Reading would clinch second place behind champions Wolves, yet could only manage a 0-0 draw against their lowly opponents.
However, with their nearest rivals losing 3-1 on the road, the Welsh club were still able to celebrate at the final whistle, leaving Fulham to fight it out in the play-offs for a second successive season.
At the other end of the table, Bolton Wanderers scored two late goals at home to beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 and avoid relegation in dramatic style.
Derby County wrapped up the final play-off berth in comprehensive fashion, recording a 4-1 win that relegated opponents Barnsley. Burton Albion were also consigned to League One following a 2-1 loss to Preston, who finish just outside the top six.
Aston Villa and Middlesbrough – who will face each other in the play-offs – both failed to win, the former losing 1-0 at Millwall while Boro needed a late equaliser to draw 2-2 at Ipswich Town.
Elsewhere, relegated Sunderland recorded a 3-0 home win over Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday thumped Norwich City 5-1, Sheffield United overcame Bristol City in a five-goal thriller, Leeds United won 2-0 at home to Queens Park Rangers and Brentford drew 1-1 with Hull City.
7 - Barnsley have been relegated from the second tier of English football for the seventh time - only Bristol City and Grimsby have done so on more occasions (8 each). Fallen. pic.twitter.com/hoC1taIKLc— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 6, 2018
BLUES CRUISE AS FULHAM LOSE
Birmingham became the first Championship side to beat Fulham in 2018 as Garry Monk’s side avoided the drop in fine style at St Andrew’s.
Lukas Jutkiewicz and Harlee Dean scored in the first half and, while the visitors pulled a goal back through Tom Cairney, a late strike on the break from Che Adams finally finished off Fulham’s hopes of automatic promotion.
Instead, Cardiff finish runners-up in the league, completing a dramatic turnaround under Warnock, who becomes the first manager to seal promotion to the top flight with four different teams.
4 - Neil Warnock is the first manager to win promotion to the English top-flight with four different teams (Notts County, Sheffield United, QPR and Cardiff). Knack. pic.twitter.com/EZWfnSqWH4— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 6, 2018
BOLTON LEAVE IT LATE
Aaron Wilbraham was the hero with a late winner as Bolton - who had started the day 23rd in the table - scored twice in as many minutes to complete a miraculous escape.
Phil Parkinson's team took the lead through Adam LeFondre in the 67th minute, only for Forest to quickly hit back with goals from Ben Osborn and Jack Colback, leaving Bolton on the brink of a quick return to League One.
Yet David Wheater fired home in the 87th minute to draw the hosts level before Wilbraham flicked in a cross from the right at the near post, capping a remarkable comeback in the closing stages.