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Championship side earn nod after Fulham, Brentford draw

London, Monday @PeopleSport11

Wolverhampton Wanderers secured promotion to the Premier League for next season after Fulham conceded a stoppage-time equaliser on Saturday.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side play Birmingham on Sunday, but Fulham’s 1-1 draw means that now only Cardiff can theoretically catch the runaway Championship leaders.

Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 70th-minute goal for Fulham had looked like putting Wolves’ party on hold but Neal Maupay’s last-gasp header for Brentford sent Wolves up. Wolves have won 28 of their 42 league games this term to seal a return to the top flight after a six-season absence.

The finished bottom of the Premier League in 2011-12 with just 25 points, then suffered a second straight relegation the following season by finishing 23rd in the Championship.

However, Wolves rebounded by winning the League One title in 2014, and just missed the Championship promotion playoffs on goal difference in 2015. But the club got the boost it needed in July 2016 with the takeover of Chinese investment group Fosun International, and have now returned to the top flight.

Wolves managing director Laurie Dalrymple credited Santo, a former Porto and Valencia coach, with spearheading the team’s revival since taking charge last year. “What he has brought in has been fantastic,” Dalrymple told Sky Sports. “He came in, he changed the playing style.

We’ve recruited well and he’s galvanised the group really strongly in a very short space of time. “And very, very quickly he had us playing a different style of football than we’d been accustomed to, and a brand of football that was delivering results really quickly.”

There has been some disquiet around Wolves because Santo and several players are represented by Jorge Mendes, who sold his minority share to Fosun subsidiary to enable the takeover, and rival clubs have complained to the Football League about the relationship between Wolves and the Portuguese agent.

Earlier in the Championship on Saturday, Cardiff left it late but kept themselves on course for an automatic promotion place with a 2-0 win at Norwich.

Neil Warnock’s side had to dig deep to earn a vital three points at Carrow Road, which moved them above Fulham and into second place. Kenneth Zohore squeezed the ball past Angus Gunn in the 86th minute before Junior Hoilett’s goal in added time ensured Cardiff’s two-game losing streak was brought to an end. – AFP

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