Fulham achieved promotion back to the Premier League on Tuesday with a 3-0 home win over Preston North End which guaranteed the London side a top-two finish in the second-tier Championship.
League leaders Fulham — who were relegated from the top flight last year — now have 86 points from 42 games with four matches left to play. Second-placed Bournemouth are nine points behind Fulham, who rode a first-half brace from Aleksandar Mitrovic and a Fabio Carvalho strike to victory.
The top two in the division are promoted to the Premier League while the teams that finish third to sixth go into the playoffs to fight for the final spot.
Only Nottingham Forest could have denied Fulham promotion but they are now 16 points behind the Londoners and can get a maximum of 15 more from their remaining five games.
Fulham took the lead through Mitrovic in the ninth minute before Carvalho grabbed another and Mitrovic completed a first-half rout by finishing off a slick team move in the 41st minute.
The free-scoring Serbia international has been key to Fulham’s fortunes, averaging a goal per game with 40 strikes this season.
Fulham’s promotion had looked inevitable for some time, but their celebrations were put on hold last week when they lost at Derby County.
Fulham have scored 98 goals this season in 42 games while conceding only 37.
Fulham’s next challenge is to win the Championship title. They are nine points clear of second-placed Bournemouth, who have 77 points and a game in hand on the leaders.
Huddersfield Town are in third place on 73 ahead of Luton Town with 71, Forest on 70 and Sheffield United who currently occupy the final playoff place with 66 points.
Promotion is worth up to $240 million, according to last year’s Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance.