Diogo Jota sets promoted Wolves on the way to win over Birmingham

Jamie Jackson at Molineux on 15 April 2018

Nuno Espírito Santo said he would celebrate Wolves earning promotion to the Premier League but the manager wants them to aim for “something special” by finishing with 104 points.

This canter past a relegation-threatened Birmingham gives Wolves 95 points with three matches remaining of their Championship campaign. Espírito Santo’s side were the classy proposition they have been throughout the season, as goals from Diogo Jota and Benik Afobe on 21 and 87 minutes sealed the victory the Portuguese demanded for the home crowd.

Wolves came into the match with a place in the Premier League guaranteed thanks to Fulham only drawing with Brentford on Saturday night. Asked to look ahead to how Wolves might fare next season in English football’s top tier, Espírito Santo said: “Now is not the moment – we would ruin everything. We have 95 points. Let’s try to achieve more, something special – 101 or 104 points. That’s the dream, now let’s try it.

“It doesn’t finish yet. We know we still have things to go for, can achieve something special. This season does not deserve any kind of bad moment.”

Wolves hit the top of the Championship in mid-November and have stayed there. The manager said: “I’m very pleased. It is a big moment – first for our fans. This is why we work. It was a special feeling. They are with us, always behind us, along with the club and city. And it is more special for the players. They have been fantastic from day one.

“We showed today that yesterday was finished [promotion being confirmed] and the boys went out [and focused]. Thank you for each and every one of the players who was with us. We achieve it together, together we are strong.”

He pointed to the faith his charges have shown since he took over last summer. “They deserve it. The players are the key, the way they start and they believe. First of all what you have to conquer is the trust of players and it’s fantastic [their belief]. The Championship is the hardest competition in the world. When I’m saying this is because it’s true; it is so competitive.”

Espírito Santo had indulged in a little celebration. “Of course, I do it with joy and I enjoy it. It was a very hard season. I drink beer in the dressing room for the first time – I must be really happy. But Wednesday we are back in work.” His side travel to Bolton next Saturday before hosting Sheffield Wednesday and making a final-day trip to Sunderland.

Wolves have been criticised over their relationship with the super-agent Jorge Mendes, with rivals concerned that this has allowed the club an unfair advantage in the transfer market. Asked about his compatriot, Espírito Santo – a Mendes client – said: “I think everybody who loves the idea of Wolverhampton deserves credit.”

Conor Coady, the captain, said there had been no problem concentrating on the game. “It’s not hard to focus when we’ve got a manager like that,” he said. “It’s huge for this club to be back in the Premier League.”

Premier League

Manchester City have won their fifth English league title after Manchester United lost at home to West Brom. Liverpool (70) and Tottenham (67) look set to join United in the top four with Chelsea seven points behind in fifth. Arsenal are just two points above Burnley in sixth, but could still reach the Champions League if they win the Europa League. Burnley look bound for Europe, unless Southampton win the FA Cup.

West Brom (24pts) are still nine points from safety despite their shock win at Old Trafford while Stoke (27pts) and Southampton (28) are losing touch with Swansea (33), Crystal Palace (34), West Ham (34), Huddersfield (35) and Brighton (35) in the fight to avoid relegation.

Championship

Wolves (pictured) have been promoted to the Premier League after Brentford's late equaliser against Fulham (82pts), who are now third behind Cardiff (83) in the race for automatic promotion, with Aston Villa (79) in fourth. There is a fierce battle for the other two play-off places with just four points between Middlesbrough, Millwall, Derby, Preston, Sheffield United, Bristol City and Brentford.

Burton beat Derby to avoid relegation and climb above Sunderland, who are six points from safety with three games to play. Barnsley (38pts) are still battling and have a game in hand on Bolton (40) and Reading (43),with Birmingham (40) still in trouble.

League One

Wigan and Blackburn have the edge in a three-horse race for automatic promotion; both sides have a five-point cushion on Shrewsbury (82pts), and leaders Wigan have a game in hand. Rotherham appear set for the top six with Scunthorpe, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Charlton and Peterborough battling for the other two play-off spots.

Bury (pictured) have been relegated to League Two after defeat to Northampton, who boosted their own survival hopes. MK Dons and Rochdale join the Cobblers in the bottom four, but Oldham, Walsall, Wimbledon and Oxford are all in danger.

League Two

Accrington missed the chance to seal promotion against Exeter on Saturday, but Stanley and Luton (83pts) look certain to climb into League One. Wycombe (77pts) are in third, with Notts County (73) and Exeter (73) playing catch-up. Coventry (68) and Mansfield (67) occupy the other play-off places but Lincoln (67) have games in hand.

Chesterfield and Barnet are in the bottom two but have hopes of catching the four teams above them – Forest Green, Grimsby, Morecambe and Port Vale. Macclesfield are 10 points clear in the National League, with one other team set to come up via the play-offs.

Birmingham are two points above the drop zone in 21st place and have played a game more than Barnsley, the side immediately beneath them. City’s manager, Garry Monk, was unhappy about the straight red card shown to Harlee Dean for a challenge on Hélder Costa early in the second half. “Harlee went for an attempt for the ball. The ruling is that’s a yellow card; we are definitely looking at that to be rescinded.”

Of the survival battle, Monk said: “We’re fighting. Everyone is.”

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