LONDON (AFP) – Cardiff were left in control of their own destiny as they took a giant stride towards automatic promotion to the Premier League with a 2-0 win away to Hull on Saturday.
Only the top two at the end of the regular Championship season are guaranteed places in English football’s lucrative top flight, with champions Wolves having already secured one of those coveted spots.
A goal in each half from captain Sean Morrison saw Cardiff regain second place from Fulham, who beat relegated Sunderland on Friday.
Cardiff are now a point in front of the London club and so will be assured of promotion if they beat relegation-threatened Reading in their final league game of the season next weekend when Fulham play Birmingham.
Saturday’s late kick-off saw Middlesbrough make sure of their place in the play-offs with a 2-0 win at home to Millwall.
The four teams finishing third to sixth in the table contest two play-off semi-finals and a final to see which one grabs the third and final promotion place.
Goals from Britt Assombalonga and Jonny Howson saw Boro secure their top-six spot with a game to spare.
But Derby missed the chance to secure a play-off place in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.
Cameron Jerome gave the Rams an early lead but Lewis Grabban equalised six minutes from time.
At the other end of the table, Burton remained in the relegation zone despite a 2-0 win over drop rivals Bolton.
Now Nigel Clough’s side must get a get a result at Preston on the final day after Barnsley beat Brentford 2-0 to move out of the bottom three by virtue of their vastly superior goal difference.
Birmingham and Reading were both left hovering above the relegation zone after they each suffered defeats on Saturday.
Che Adams gave Birmingham the lead at QPR but the London club hit back to win 3-1 thanks to goals from Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ilias Chair and Matt Smith.
With 20 minutes left, Reading were holding Ipswich to a goalless draw but the East Anglian side then ran riot to win 4-0 courtesy of goals from Martyn Waghorn, Jordan Spence, Freddie Sears and Callum Connolly.
Meanwhile Wolves were held to a goalless draw by Sheffield Wednesday and it was the same story in the match between Nottingham Forest and Bristol City.
Elsewhere, Norwich came from behind to beat Leeds 2-1.