Newcastle United sewed up the Championship title on Sunday, beating Barnsley 3-0 to finish above Brighton & Hove Albion and return to the Premier League with a bang on a frantic final day at both ends of England’s second-tier.
Brighton finished second after drawing 1-1 at mid-table Aston Villa, while at the other end of the table Nottingham Forest pulled off a narrow escape as 1995 Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers were relegated.
Forest looked set for the drop after Blackburn took a 2-0 first-half lead at Brentford, but Britt Assombalonga scored a penalty to put the twice European champions back in the box seat.
Chris Cohen doubled Forest’s lead after the interval and Assombalonga missed a second penalty, but made amends with a powerful shot from inside the area to give Forest a 3-0 victory that kept them up on goal difference.
Blackburn’s 3-1 victory over Brentford could not prevent them from dropping into the third-tier next season, alongside already relegated Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United.
Goals from Ayoze Perez, Chancel Mbema and Dwight Gayle were enough to help Newcastle and manager Rafa Benitez finish a point above Brighton, whose hopes of winning the title were dashed at the death.
Glenn Murray put Brighton ahead from the penalty spot but Jack Grealish levelled for Villa in the 89th minute to break Brighton hearts.
Both Newcastle and Brighton had already secured promotion before Sunday’s action.
Birmingham, who were also in danger of relegation and brought in Harry Redknapp as manager last month to help keep them in the Championship, held on for a narrow 1-0 win over Bristol City to stay up, two points clear of Forest and Blackburn.
Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and Fulham finished in the playoff places and will face off to decide which team wins the final promotion spot to the Premier League.