Anthony Knockaert's 90th-minute goal for Leicester City helped Nigel Pearson's side set up a play-off semi-final meeting with Watford and broke the hearts of both Nottingham Forest and Bolton Wanderers on a thrilling final day at both ends of the Championship.
Leicester, without a win at Forest's City Ground since 1972, were lifted into sixth spot by the Frenchman's winner, having looked as though they had blown their chances of promotion in a disastrous run of just one win from their previous 12 matches.
"It's been a ridiculous league this year," said Pearson after his side jumped above Bolton, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Blackpool. "During the last two or three months we have not always had the fortune we probably deserved, but we had an outside chance. We did what we had to do and things worked out elsewhere."
After suffering their own dramatic loss of form to drop out of contention for automatic promotion, Crystal Palace finally booked their play-off meeting with arch-rivals Brighton with a 3-2 victory over Peterborough. Mile Jedinak's 89th-minute goal consigned their opponents to League One next season despite Darren Ferguson's side having amassed more points than any other relegated side in Championship history and scored five more goals than promoted Hull City.
"They've been so unlucky – 54 points keeps you in the Championship every other year," said Ferguson. "I don't know what's going to happen next year; I have to reflect in the week. Now's not the time to talk about next season. All I can say is the lads have given everything."
Barnsley's 2-2 draw at Huddersfield was enough to preserve both teams' second tier status; Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday also survived.