Seag­ulls are soar­ing but it’s all over for Zola at Birm­ing­ham

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - SPORT -

Brighton sealed pro­mo­tion to the Premier League and moved a step closer to win­ning the Cham­pi­onship after beat­ing Wi­gan 2-1 at a ju­bi­lant Amex Sta­dium yes­ter­day. The win was enough to spark ju­bi­lant scenes but their el­e­va­tion to the top ta­ble was not con­firmed math­e­mat­i­cally un­til Hud­der­s­field drew 1-1 at Derby in the late kick-off. Ja­cob But­ter­field’s 88thminute equaliser was enough to can­cel out Collin Quaner’s ef­fort and for­malise the Seag­ulls’ cel­e­bra­tion party. Glenn Mur­ray had opened the scor­ing for Chris Hughton’s Brighton side eight min­utes be­fore half-time, his 22nd goal of the cam­paign and fifth in as many games at home. Eng­land un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional Solly March en­sured the cel­e­bra­tions could con­tinue in earnest when he con­verted An­thony Knock­aert’s cut­back and a late goal from sub­sti­tute Nick Pow­ell could not change the pic­ture. New­cas­tle, league lead­ers for so long, slipped to seven points be­hind the Seag­ulls as they took their win­less run to three matches with a 3-1 de­feat at Ip­swich. Gian­franco Zola took full re­spon­si­bil­ity for fail­ing as Birm­ing­ham man­ager after re­sign­ing after the 2-0 home loss to Bur­ton. Goals in ei­ther half from Lloyd Dyer and Lu­cas Akins sealed a dou­ble for Al­bion over the Blues, with home sup­port­ers chant­ing “we want Zola out” to­wards the end of the match as Birm­ing­ham slumped to within three points of the Cham­pi­onship rel­e­ga­tion zone with three games left. The Ital­ian, who took up the reins in De­cem­ber fol­low­ing the con­tro­ver­sial sack­ing of Gary Rowett, faced the me­dia after the match to ex­press his sor­row that he could not ful­fil the club’s ex­pec­ta­tions. “I sacked my­self,” said Zola, who over­saw just two wins in 22 league games. “I de­cided to give my res­ig­na­tion.”

CEL­E­BRA­TION SELFIE: Brighton’s Jiri Skalak, left, and An­thony Knock­aert take a photo dur­ing the ju­bi­lant scenes at the Amex Sta­dium yes­ter­day

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