Hull City sealed an instant return to the Premier League as Mohamed Diame’s superb strike secured a 1-0 Championship play-off final victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
Steve Bruce’s men wrapped up a money-spinning spot back in the top flight a year on from the pain of relegation after a dominant display at Wembley.
Having been denied time and again by inspired Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, it took a 20-yard curler from Diame to settle matters 18 minutes from time in an entertaining Yorkshire derby.
While Hull will take a seat at the top table – and pocket an estimated £170million in the process – Wednesday will spend a 17th consecutive season outside the Premier League, with trips the likes of Burton Albion and local rivals Rotherham United on the agenda.
After the Tigers put in two such contrasting performances in their semi-final triumph over Derby County – winning 3-0 away before succumbing 2-0 at home – much of the talk in the build-up centred on which side would turn up at the national stadium.
It transpired to be the one that finished nine points ahead of Wednesday in the table and City looked superior for most of what was an absorbing encounter.
Wednesday’s bright start gave way to a spell of Hull pressure that saw Bruce’s side force the impressive Westwood into a stunning save and Diame strike the upright.
Carlos Carvalhal’s men continued to come under fire after the break, with Michael Dawson and Andrew Robertson missing gilt-edged opportunities before Diame assumed the role of Hull’s hero.
And yet it had started well enough for Wednesday, who won a free-kick in a promising position after Dawson was cautioned for hacking down Fernando Forestieri, whose set-piece was palmed over by Eldin Jakupovic in unorthodox fashion.
It was from another dead-ball situation that Ross Wallace again called an unconvincing Jakupovic into action.
Hull almost broke the deadlock when Tom Huddlestone’s powerful 29th-minute header from Robert Snodgrass’ corner was cleared off the line by Kieran Lee and Dawson failed to steer in the rebound.
Westwood was next to come to the Owls’ rescue when he brilliantly diverted Abel Hernandez’s shot over the crossbar after Tom Lees failed to deal with Diame’s throughball.
Diame then rattled the post after dancing his way into the area as the Tigers ramped up the pressure, with Moses Odubajo then testing a busy Westwood.
Forestieri looked to redress the balance early in the second half as he chased Westwood’s long kick, but Curtis Davies recovered brilliantly to thwart him.
Carvalhal’s men were soon on the back foot again, though, and Dawson brought yet another fine stop from Westwood when he flashed at Snodgrass’ searching delivery to the back post.
Odubajo then played in Robertson for what looked to be a simple finish 12 yards out, but the Scot skied his shot well over the target.
Finally Diame made the breakthrough, curling home expertly from outside the box, with Westwood barely getting his right glove to it.
For the first time, Wednesday’s huge following contingent – in stark contrast to the many empty seats in the Hull end – fell silent and there was to be no last-gasp tonic for the Owls.
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