Considered by many to be the most exciting league in the world on accounts of its unpredictability, the Sky Bet Championship entered into its final day of the 2016/17 season on Sunday, with a lot still to play for.
Both Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United were guaranteed automatic promotion to the Premier League, yet the Championship title was still at stake for either side, although the Seagulls went into the final day ahead by a point.
However the real drama was at the bottom, where one of Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers or Nottingham Forest would be relegated to League One. Wins for both the Blues and Forest would guarantee safety, while Rovers would have to better the result of their rivals.
11 - Nottingham Forest haven’t lost a home league game against Ipswich in any of their last 11 matches (W5 D6). Confident. pic.twitter.com/GkaKz1PuTU— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 7, 2017
5 - Blackburn haven’t lost any of their last five league trips to London (W1 D4), with that one win coming against Brentford. Hope. pic.twitter.com/tiDbZ7wmH2— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 7, 2017
So, after 45 games in England's second tier of football, the final day of the season got underway.
The final day of the Championship is under way! pic.twitter.com/ANR5jL8gM0— Coral (@Coral) May 7, 2017
The play off places were all but confirmed, although a rugby score win for Leeds United could've seen them replace Fulham for 6th place.
Then the goals just started pouring in. First, Blackburn Rovers grabbed two in quick succession away to Brentford to put them temporarily out of danger, while Birmingham City also went ahead to put the Blues in firm control of their own destiny. Forest meanwhile were in the drop zone.
What. A. Goal.— bet365 (@bet365) May 7, 2017
Take a bow, Charlie Mulgrew. pic.twitter.com/t60nN1I6ID
2-0 BLACKBURN!!!!!!— SPORTbible (@sportbible) May 7, 2017
Brentford 0-2 Blackburn Rovers.— bet365 (@bet365) May 7, 2017
Mo' problems. pic.twitter.com/sd8j6jnTGn
Zach Clough comes on for Forest.— bet365 (@bet365) May 7, 2017
If there's ever a time to live up to the name. pic.twitter.com/pRau7rkPaw
So if it stays 2-0 here but Forest win 1-0, then the GDs are the same, but Forest would stay up on goals scored. Meanwhile Birmingham 1 up— Tom Barclay (@TomBarclay_) May 7, 2017
At the top Newcastle United broke the deadlock at home to Barnsley, meaning a goal - with Brighton still goalless away to Aston Villa - would hand them the title if the scores stayed as they were.
#NUFC show a bit of Premier League quality there. Nice flowing move from left to right, beautifully finished by Perez.— Kristan Heneage (@KHeneage) May 7, 2017
As it stands, Newcastle United are returning to the Premier League as Champions. pic.twitter.com/hfGsp1nx7Z— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) May 7, 2017
Ayoze Pérez: Has scored 3 goals in his last 3 apps, as many as he had managed in his previous 25 matches combined— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 7, 2017
Cracking atmosphere at SJP. Skin-headed Mike Ashley grinning away as he stands up to celebrate Perez's opener. #nufc— David Coverdale (@dpcoverdale) May 7, 2017
The drama then came from the City Ground as Nottingham Forest striker Britt Assombalonga put his side ahead from the penalty spot to take them out of the relegation places, replacing Blackburn Rovers.
Let's all do the conga, with Britt Assombalonga. pic.twitter.com/5q6SCeIJAx— bet365 (@bet365) May 7, 2017
18 - Britt Assombalonga has netted 18 goals in 24 league starts for Nottm Forest at the City Ground. Homely.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 7, 2017
GOAL! Forest ahead against Ipswich - Assombalonga pen— ITV Football (@itvfootball) May 7, 2017
Forest 51 points
Blackburn 51 points
Forest staying up on goals scored at the mo
As it stands, Premier League winners Blackburn Rovers are relegated to the third division of English football. pic.twitter.com/qNLOD20cYD— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) May 7, 2017
That's how it stayed as the half time whistles blew across the country.
HT— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 7, 2017
Blackburn are in the Championship drop zone on goals scored.
Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham
Forest 1-0 Ipswich
Brentford 0-2 Blackburn pic.twitter.com/wJDIUwKb3k
Newcastle 1-0 Barnsley HT:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 7, 2017
Pass acc.: 79%-78%
Chances created: 6-2
As it stands, Newcastle win the title. pic.twitter.com/Azoc1Bnmq7
45 minutes remain of the @SkyBetChamp season.— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) May 7, 2017
Plenty still to play for. here we go!
When bae makes you go shopping but it's Super Sunday and you need to know the score pic.twitter.com/v4xGecvQWY— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) May 7, 2017
Back underway for the second half and Nottingham Forest started to see the light with a second goal, courtesy of Chris Cohen, distancing themselves from relegation thanks to a two goal cushion.
Uuuuuuurrrrreeeesdddsss!!!— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) May 7, 2017
On Tyneside, the Magpies doubled their lead but it was quickly forgotten as Brighton & Hove Albion finally got a goal away to Aston Villa to send the title back away from the North-East.
Glenn Murray: Has scored Brighton's first goal since securing promotion to the Premier League. He may now have secured them the league title— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 7, 2017
Glenn Murray has now scored 23 goals in the Championship this season, only Chris Wood has scored more (26).— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 7, 2017
Brighton are top again! pic.twitter.com/jeayeGjtfW
Back at Forest, Assombalonga missed a penalty, but made up for it three minutes later with his second of the game to put his side 3-0 up, which all but assured their survival.
66' #NFFC 2-0 Ipswich: Penalty saved - Assombalonga goes high towards the top corner again, but Bialkowski tips it over the bar— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) May 7, 2017
The Forest result meant that Blackburn's only hope was for a Bristol City equaliser against Birmingham City. Rovers also went 3-1 up in their game against the 10 men of Brentford, meaning a 6-1 win could keep them up on goal difference ahead of Forest.
Brentford 1-2 Blackburn— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 7, 2017
Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham
If it stays like this, Blackburn go down
If Birmingham concede, they drop below Rovers pic.twitter.com/5F1q0ukly1
82mins: Penalty and Red Card! Joao plays in Emnes, who is brought down by Dean in the box and the Brentford skipper is sent off. 1-2— Blackburn Rovers (@Rovers) May 7, 2017
Blackburn fans singing: "Come on Bristol, come on Bristol."— Coral (@Coral) May 7, 2017
Things took a dramatic turn in the race for the championship as Aston Villa's Jack Grealish scored a 90th minute equaliser against leaders Brighton to put Newcastle back on top.
VILLA EQUALISE AND NEWCASTLE ARE ON THE VERGE OF BECOMING THE CHAMPIONS.— From The Stands (@FromTStands) May 7, 2017
Brighton were 7 points clear with 3 games to play. pic.twitter.com/Fiydn7VFan— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) May 7, 2017
GOAL! Villa have equalised! As it stands Newcastle are winning the title! pic.twitter.com/5jlbGeyiP7— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) May 7, 2017
"Hey Newcastle,— BenchWarmers (@BeWarmers) May 7, 2017
you're welcome" pic.twitter.com/9jnZaHTv5p
Meanwhile, Forest's win secured their safety, leaving Birmingham City to hold on to a slender 1-0 lead to confirm theirs and Blackburn's demise.
Get in there!!! — Zach Clough (@ZachClough) May 7, 2017
SIX minutes added at Bristol City. Blackburn fans: pic.twitter.com/JxaYHorjYb— Coral (@Coral) May 7, 2017
And they did it! The Blues, inspired by Harry Redknapp's short term leadership, lived to see another day, while former Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers were rlegated to League One.
According to our calculations:— bet365 (@bet365) May 7, 2017
∆ = b² - 4 a c
x = ————
Harry Redknapp has kept Birmingham up. pic.twitter.com/BEGtbegigL
Guess who's kept Birmingham up. pic.twitter.com/miqZe4SbJ8— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) May 7, 2017
Results elsewhere mean that Rovers have been relegated to League One.— Blackburn Rovers (@Rovers) May 7, 2017
3 – Blackburn have been relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1979/80. Sorrow.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 7, 2017
Blackburn finished 10th in the PL the season before Venky's takeover. 7 years on, they're in the 3rd division with debts of £100m— Tim Nichols (@TimNicholsDM) May 7, 2017
7th May 2012: Blackburn Rovers relegated from the Premier League.— bet365 (@bet365) May 7, 2017
7th May 2017: Blackburn Rovers relegated from the Championship. pic.twitter.com/R7qDiYUd3z
Blackburn have only spent 5 seasons outside the top 2 divisions in their history. Until now. The Venky's effect.— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) May 7, 2017
Newcastle's 3-0 win, combined with Brighton's draw away to Villa, handed them the title
Most points (94)— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 7, 2017
Most goals scored (85)
Best goal difference (+45)
Most wins (29)
Newcastle return to the Premier League as champions. pic.twitter.com/AP8j3GaG2n
Newcastle win the Championship after a late Villa equaliser at Brighton.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 7, 2017
Newcastle have won the Championship! pic.twitter.com/t8yQreHB2z— Paddy Power (@paddypower) May 7, 2017
3 – Newcastle are the 3rd second tier team to lose their opening 2 games & win the division (also Boro 1926/27 & Sunderland 2006/07). Title.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 7, 2017
12 May, 2016: Newcastle are relegated from the Premier League.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 7, 2017
7 May, 2017: Newcastle finish the Championship title-winners.
So there you have it. The Championship season is finally over and what a rollercoaster final day it was. Two of the country's biggest clubs with contrasting fortunes; Newcastle are champions, while Blackburn are relegated. Here's the final table