2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season

Cardiff return to Premier League as Neil Warnock earns eighth promotion

Cardiff celebrated a return to the Premier League as a 0-0 draw against Reading proved enough to give manager Neil Warnock a record eighth career promotion.
A draw left Cardiff sweating on Fulham's result at Birmingham, but news of the Cottagers' 3-1 defeat began to filter through before the final whistle to kick start the party in the Welsh capital.
The scoreline also guaranteed Reading another season in the Sky Bet Championship, although results elsewhere meant the Royals would have been safe even had they lost for the fourth successive game.
This will be a day long remembered in Cardiff as the Bluebirds nervously crossed the line back into the Premier League, their only previous stay being a one-season stop in 2013-14.
It was rarely pretty, as has often been the way this season from a side that Warnock has shaped in his no-nonsense image.
But no-one can dispute the spirit and resilience of a squad Warnock has put together on a relative shoestring and one that has mustered 90 points from 46 league games.
Reading reached the play-offs last season under Jaap Stam but it has been a miserable season in Berkshire.
Stam departed in March to leave Paul Clement with the task of keeping Reading in the division, something which was thrown into grave doubt by last week's capitulation at home to Ipswich.
Clement - who started the season at Cardiff's bitter rivals Swansea - has just about it managed it, although a busy summer of rebuilding now awaits the former Chelsea and Real Madrid assistant manager.
There was a raucous atmosphere inside the Cardiff City Stadium from kick-off, with the record league crowd of 32,478 witnessing a rare visit from Bluebirds' owner Vincent Tan.
With so much at stake, there was plenty of passion from both sets of players but fluency and goalmouth opportunities were at a premium throughout a first half woefully low on quality.
Joe Ralls denied David Edwards a shooting opportunity and the Cardiff midfielder struck a firm volley which was blocked by the head of Tommy Elphick.
But the real moments of note came off the pitch as Cardiff supporters celebrated Birmingham's opener and the Reading faithful lauded goals for Derby and Preston against relegation rivals.
Cardiff went close after 19 minutes when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing squared the ball to Callum Paterson on the edge of the area.
The Scot completely missed his kick but the ball ran free to Junior Hoilett who curled his attempt inches wide.
Hoilett soon wanted a penalty after tumbling under Tiago Ilori's challenge and Kenneth Zohore saw his close-range shot blocked as Cardiff carried the greater scoring threat.
The pattern continued into the second half with Zohore flashing over from the angle and Reading goalkeeper Vito Mannone gathering from Mendez-Laing and Craig Bryson at his near post.
The goal would not come for Cardiff, but it did not matter as referee Bobby Madley's final whistle and a pitch invasion signalled their return to the big time.

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English League Championship Standings

1 Middlesbrough 13 +9 25
2 Sheffield United 12 +8 25
3 West Bromwich Albion 12 +14 24
4 Leeds United 12 +13 23
5 Nottingham Forest 12 +4 19
6 Sheffield Wednesday 13 0 19
7 Brentford 12 +6 18
8 Derby County 12 +2 18
9 Norwich City 12 0 18
10 Blackburn Rovers 12 -1 18
11 Swansea City 12 +3 17
12 Wigan Athletic 12 -2 17
13 Bristol City 12 +2 16
14 Stoke City 12 -1 16
15 Aston Villa 12 0 15
16 Bolton Wanderers 12 -5 15
17 Birmingham City 12 +1 14
18 Queens Park Rangers 12 -10 14
19 Rotherham United 12 -10 11
20 Millwall 12 -6 10
21 Reading 12 -5 9
22 Preston North End 12 -6 9
23 Ipswich Town 12 -7 9
24 Hull City 12 -9 8

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