Newcastle United won the Championship title while Blackburn Rovers were relegated in a dramatic final day of action in England’s second tier.
A 3-0 victory for Rafael Benitez’s side over Barnsley, coupled with Aston Villa’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Brighton and Hove Albion, led to huge celebrations at St James’ Park.
At the other end of the table, there were wins for all three of the teams in danger of being relegated to League One – Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn.
But that meant heartbreak for Blackburn, who started the day third bottom and were relegated on goal difference.
NEWCASTLE CROWNED CHAMPIONS
Brighton were one minute away from being crowned Championship winners for the first time in their history, but ultimately had to settle for second place.
Chris Hughton’s side came into the game at Villa having lost two consecutive matches, but looked to be on track to reverse their slump when the hosts’ Nathan Baker was sent off for fouling Sam Baldock in the box, Glenn Murray scoring the resulting penalty.
But Jack Grealish collected Neil Taylor’s pass and fired a low shot past David Stockdale as 10-man Villa grabbed a late draw.
And that was enough to give Newcastle the silverware, with Benitez’s man already having opened up a comfortable lead at St James’ Park.
Ayoze Perez’s flicked finish put Benitez’s men in front midway through the first half and Chancel Mbemba struck on the hour mark to make sure of the points.
And, just as news filtered through of Villa’s dramatic Brighton equaliser, Dwight Gayle raced through to score a last-minute third and seal a joyous afternoon.
BLACKBURN DOWN AS FOREST & BIRMINGHAM SURVIVE
Blackburn did what they had to do on Sunday, winning 3-1 at Brentford. Goals from Charlie Mulgrew and Danny Guthrie, with Craig Conway’s late penalty – which Harlee Dean was sent off for conceding – sealing three points after Lassse Vibe had got one back for the hosts.
But that was not enough to avoid the drop, a fate which they suffered on goal difference after Forest and Birmingham both won.
Forest were impressive in recording a 3-0 home victory over Ipswich Town, Britt Assombalonga scoring one penalty and missing another either side of Chris Cohen’s strike, before making up for the one he failed to convert with a third for Mark Waburton’s side, whose fans celebrated with a pitch invasion.
Birmingham were 1-0 winners at Bristol City, Che Adams – who had a red card against Huddersfield Town overturned so he could play in this game – showing strength to net a first-half strike that kept them in the division.
Harry Redknapp’s men, who won their last two games to survive having previously gone 10 without a win, had to hold on for six agonising minutes of added time, with the final whistle sealing Rovers’ fall to the third tier.
FINAL PLAY-OFF PLACINGS CONFIRMED
One point separated three teams in the race to finish third coming into the final day, with Reading ultimately getting the win they needed to seal that spot and book a play-off tie against sixth-placed Fulham.
Reading won 4-2 at Burton Albion, Joseph Mendes, Jordan Obita and Yann Kermorgant putting them three up and Lewis Grabban scoring a late clincher after Ben Turner and Cauley Woodrow had threatened a comeback for the hosts.
Two of the four teams in the play-offs did battle when Sheffield Wednesday suffered a 2-1 home loss to sixth-placed Fulham, Sam Winnall’s goal cancelled out by a double from Neeskens Kebano, with Marco Matias sent off when the match was level at one apiece.
Huddersfield will face Wednesday and also go into the two-legged tie on a negative note after losing 3-0 at home to Cardiff City.
Joe Bennett’s double and a strike from Kenneth Zohore proved decisive, the hosts’ hopes in this match and the play-off not helped by goalkeeper Danny Ward’s first-half red card, which will lead to a suspension.
Elsewhere, Norwich City romped to a 4-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers, while Wolves edged to a 1-0 win against Preston.
Relegated Wigan Athletic drew 1-1 with Leeds United, who netted through Golden Boot winner Chris Wood’s 27th league goal of the season, while bottom-of-the-table Rotherham United also drew 1-1 in their match at home to Derby County
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