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Championship wrap: Southampton back in the big time

Saint seal their second promotion in as many seasons as Nigel Adkins masterminds their return to the top flight.

Southampton's Rickie Lambert is carried off the pitch after the final whistle.
Southampton's Rickie Lambert is carried off the pitch after the final whistle.
Image: Daniel Hambury/EMPICS Sport

SOUTHAMPTON SEALED AUTOMATIC promotion to the Premier League on the final day of the Championship season today.

Nigel Adkins’ team recorded a comprehensive 4-0 win against relegated Coventry City at St Mary’s Stadium, which will see them in the top flight for the first time since 2004/05.

After making a nervous start, Southampton broke the deadlock in the 16th minute as Billy Sharp turned in a powerful drive from Adam Lallana.

Portuguese defender Jose Fonte got the second with a header from Danny Fox’s cross, before centre-back Jos Hooiveld made it 3-0 with a close-range effort on the hour-mark. Lallana completed the scoring just four minutes later, netting his 13th goal of the campaign.

It left West Ham United to finish third, with Sam Allardyce’s team managing a 2-1 win at home to Hull City at Upton Park. Carlton Cole netted goals either side of half-time before Corry Evans got on the scoresheet for the visiting Hull.

West Ham will face Cardiff City in the playoff semi-finals after the Welsh side wrapped up sixth spot with a come-from-behind 2-1 win at Crystal Palace. Wilfried Zaha had given Palace a surprise 13th-minute lead at Selhurst Park, before Cardiff hit back through goals from Peter Whittingham and Don Cowie.

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In the other playoff semi-final, Birmingham City will take on Blackpool. Chris Hughton’s Birmingham were 2-0 winners at home to champions Reading, with Adam Rooney and Wade Elliott on the scoresheet.

Blackpool held onto fifth despite only managing a 2-2 draw at Millwall, who had Harry Kane score an 83rd-minute equaliser at The Den. Middlesbrough finished seventh after suffering a 2-1 loss at Watford, while Leeds United went down 2-1 at home to Leicester City.

Relegated sides Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers finished their campaigns with losses. Dexter Blackstock’s brace saw Nottingham Forest to a 2-0 win at home to Portsmouth, while Rovers lost 3-2 at home to Ipswich Town. Barnsley and Brighton and Hove Albion played out a scoreless draw, Peterborough United held Derby County to a 1-1 draw and Burnley and Bristol City drew 1-1.

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