Ipswich Town 2 Sunderland 0
Without kicking a ball, Nottingham Forest were promoted to the Premiership at Portman Road last night after second-placed Sunderland suffered only their second defeat in 22 games.
Ipswich's victory, gained by goals from Matt Holland and Alex Mathie, who also had a penalty saved, mean that only Middlesbrough, who entertain Wolves tonight, can catch Forest.
The defeat makes it increasingly likely that Sunderland's hopes of a return to the Premiership will have to be taken via the play-offs, in which they could easily meet Ipswich.
Sunderland, unbeaten in 13 previous games, knew they had to win both this game and Sunday's trip to Swindon to make certain of promotion and they began in determined fashion.
After only six minutes Lee Clark fed Nicky Summerbee, who cut inside from the right, rode a challenge from Jamie Clapham but then proceeded to offer a tame shot which Richard Wright, the Ipswich goalkeeper, was able to gather comfortably.
However, despite the comforting start, manager Peter Reid was offered two early scares.
In the ninth minute Clark fell awkwardly on an ankle and required lengthy treatment.
Three minutes later Kevin Phillips suffered a similar fate when turning on the heavy surface but, like Clark, he was eventually able to continue.
Sunderland continued to press through the middle and when Niall Quinn won a header, Phillips was offered a chance but his shot was parried by Wright.
The visitors, however, did not have the first half their own way. Ipswich used the left flank repeatedly, from where Bobby Petta caused problems, but with a play-off place already secured, their need for success was not as great as their frenetic opponents and they rarely threatened Lionel Perez's goal.
After the break it was a different story, though, and two goals in the opening 15 minutes handed Forest promotion to the Premiership.
In the 47th minute the tenacity of Dave Johnson, who won the ball off Kevin Ball, gave Holland the chance to launch himself and beat Perez with a spectacular diving header.
Then, after Phillips had squandered a good chance, Ipswich were awarded a penalty when Johnson was upended by Jody Craddock.
Mathie's attempt to put Ipswich in control was wasted, Perez saving the spot kick with his legs.
But two minutes later a cross from the left by Clapham allowed Mathie to make amends, his volley beating Perez from 12 yards.