Saints march in to top division

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SOUTHAMPTON secured promotion to the Barclays Premier League with a 4-0 win over Coventry City in front of a jubilant sell-out crowd at St Mary’s.

After enduring a nervy start in which Coventry created chances, Southampton took control of their fate with two goals in three minutes to begin their day of celebrations.

Billy Sharp stuck out a toe to turn Adam Lallana’s volleyed shot past Joe Murphy in the 16th minute, and moments later Jose Fonte’s stooping header found the net to make it 2-0.

When Jos Hooiveld lashed in a third just before the hour mark and Lallana notched a fourth moments later, the party got under way.

That meant West Ham had to settle for third place even as a Carlton Cole brace sank Hull 2-1 at Upton Park.

Cardiff wrapped up the final play-off spot, but made their fans sweat first before beating Crystal Palace 2-1.

They fell behind at Selhurst Park when Wilfried Zaha linked up with Darren Ambrose to score a fine goal on the break after 13 minutes.

Cardiff struggled to impose themselves but Peter Whittingham scored a free-kick from a tight angle with his trusty left foot eight minutes into the second half and Don Cowie then volleyed in a second after the hour mark to turn it around.

Middlesbrough had needed Cardiff to drop points and to beat Watford, but got neither as they went down 2-1 at Vicarage Road, where Troy Deeney snatched an 88th-minute winner moments after Marvin Emnes had cancelled out Chris Iwelumo’s close-range finish.

Champions Reading fell to a 2-0 defeat at Birmingham, substitute Adam Rooney firing in the opener after 24 minutes and Wade Elliott making sure with a 75th minute penalty after a handball by Jay Tabb.

The win lifts Birmingham into fourth above Blackpool, who were held 2-2 at Millwall.

Andy Keogh put the hosts in front after 12 minutes, but Ian Evatt headed Blackpool level quarter of an hour later, and Nouha Dicko grabbed the winner 20 minutes from time.

However, Harry Kane’s 83rd-minute strike denied Blackpool fourth place.

Leicester’s season has not gone to plan, but they at least signed off with a win, beating Leeds 2-1 at Elland Road.

Portsmouth, who will join Doncaster in League One next season, lost 2-0 to Nottingham Forest who got a late brace from Dexter Blackstock.

Danny Ings’ 76th-minute strike looked like giving Burnley a 1-0 win over Bristol City but Ryan Taylor levelled five minutes later to earn a point.

Derby and Peterborough shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.