Southampton returned to the Premier League after a seven-year absence with goals from Billy Sharp, Jose Fonte, Jos Hooiveld and Adam Lallana securing promotion on the final day of the Championship season.

Saints knew victory over Coventry would send them up and, despite a nervous start, they were worthy winners.

Sharp diverted Lallana's volley past keeper Joe Murphy after 16 minutes, and when Fonte headed his first goal of the season three minutes later, victory was all but sealed with nearly 70 minutes left to play.

Saints' fluctuating fortunes

  • 2012 2nd in Championship
  • 2011 2nd in League One
  • 2010 7th in League one
  • 2009 23rd in Championship
  • 2008 20th in Championship
  • 2007 6th in Championship
  • 2006 12th in Championship
  • 2005 20th in Premier League

Dutch defender Hooiveld drilled home from close range after the break, while Lallana's tap-in was the cue for the St Mary's party to get well and truly under way.

Nigel Adkins's side have maintained their position in the top two of the Championship all season but West Ham had closed to within two points as each side had one game to play.

And West Ham did what they could to try and snatch promotion from Saints with a 2-1 victory over Hull on Saturday, but in the end it proved irrelevant.

Just seven years ago, Southampton were relegated from English football's top flight and in that time a spell in administration and a couple of seasons in League One have followed.

But now, thanks to significant investment from late owner Marcus Liebherr with chairman Nicola Cortese at the helm, Saints have been able to build a team that is now back in the Premier League.

This season's campaign has been built on the 31 goals of striker Rickie Lambert, but Lallana's contribution from midfield has been just as significant.

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Reality will set in with the staff within a couple of weeks. They will want to stay up and will start planning accordingly

He will be a key player for Saints in the Premier League, but it is the partnership of Lambert and Sharp, purchased in January from Doncaster, that is showing real promise and could be key in their attempts to stay up next season.

The pair now have 50 goals between them this season, and it was Sharp's opener that sent them on their way. He was on hand to divert Lallana's goal-bound 18-yard volley past Murphy from close range.

Coventry themselves had started brightly with Gary McSheffrey forcing an early save from Kelvin Davis.

While Sharp's opener calmed the nerves, Fonte's diving header meant Southampton's fans could start to believe.

Saints had second-half chances to increase their lead, Guly do Prado with a header and Lambert with a fierce drive, but it was Hooiveld who got the third, smashing home from close range for his eighth goal of the season.

Lallana got in on the act soon after with a neat side-foot at the back post from Lambert's knock-down for his 13th of the season.

The final 25 minutes were a procession for Saints and, after seven years away, they are back in the Premier League.

Lineup, Bookings (0) & Substitutions (6)

Southampton

  • 01 Davis
  • 06 Fonte
  • 12 Butterfield
  • 13 Fox
  • 26 Hooiveld
  • 04 Schneiderlin
  • 10 Guly
  • 14 Hammond (Cork - 37' )
  • 20 Lallana (Puncheon - 82' )
  • 07 Lambert
  • 11 Sharp (De Ridder - 76' )

Substitutes

  • 21 Bialkowski
  • 03 Harding
  • 08 Cork
  • 33 De Ridder
  • 42 Puncheon

Coventry City

  • 01 Murphy
  • 03 Hussey
  • 15 Cranie
  • 26 Clarke
  • 37 Willis (Henderson - 72' )
  • 08 Baker
  • 16 Norwood
  • 32 Thomas
  • 34 Bigirimana (Jeffers - 46' )
  • 11 McSheffrey (Roberts - 34' )
  • 14 McDonald

Substitutes

  • 13 Dunn
  • 39 Henderson
  • 38 Roberts
  • 22 Platt
  • 27 Jeffers
Ref: Taylor
Att: 32,363

Match Stats

Shots

13 7

On target

8 5

Corners

3 9

Fouls

5 2

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:37 Full time

Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.

90:00 +0:13

Free kick awarded for a foul by Cody McDonald on Jos Hooiveld. Jos Hooiveld restarts play with the free kick.

85:41

Carl Baker takes a shot. Comfortable save by Kelvin Davis.

83:55

Inswinging corner taken by Morgan Schneiderlin from the left by-line, Header from close range by Jose Fonte misses to the right of the goal.

82:58

Floated corner taken right-footed by Carl Baker from the right by-line. Effort on goal by Will Roberts from outside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.

81:55 Substitution

Substitution Adam Lallana goes off and Jason Puncheon comes on.

81:23

Richard Lambert takes a shot. Save made by Joe Murphy.

78:23

The referee blows for offside. Jos Hooiveld takes the free kick.

77:39

Steve De Ridder produces a left-footed shot from outside the box and misses left.

77:22

Danny Butterfield crosses the ball, save by Joe Murphy.

75:05 Substitution

Substitution Steve De Ridder replaces Billy Sharp.

73:54

The ball is crossed by Carl Baker.

72:15

Carl Baker has an effort at goal from 20 yards. Kelvin Davis makes a save. Corner from the right by-line taken by Carl Baker, clearance made by Danny Butterfield.

71:08 Substitution

Substitution Jordan Willis leaves the field to be replaced by Joe Henderson.

66:27

Effort from 20 yards by Oliver Norwood. Blocked by Jose Fonte.

65:11

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Carl Baker, clearance by Jack Cork.

62:19

The assist for the goal came from Richard Lambert.

62:19 Goal scored

Goal! - Adam Lallana - Southamp'n 4 - 0 Coventry Adam Lallana fires in a goal from close in high into the middle of the goal. Southampton 4-0 Coventry.

61:27

Shaun Jeffers challenges Jose Fonte unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jose Fonte takes the free kick.

58:11

The assist for the goal came from Billy Sharp.

58:11 Goal scored

Goal! - Jos Hooiveld - Southamp'n 3 - 0 Coventry Jos Hooiveld gets on the score sheet with a goal from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Southampton 3-0 Coventry.

56:26

Daniel Fox takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post. Billy Sharp takes a shot. Martin Cranie gets a block in.

52:18

Shot from just outside the box by Richard Lambert goes over the bar.

50:32

Chris Hussey produces a cross, save by Kelvin Davis.

48:59

Foul by Guly Do Prado on Carl Baker, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Carl Baker.

47:37

Guly Do Prado produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.

46:59

Chris Hussey produces a cross, comfortable save by Kelvin Davis.

45:01

The game restarts for the second half.

45:01 Substitution

Substitution Shaun Jeffers comes on in place of Gael Bigirimana.

45:00 +2:07 Half time

Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.

43:37

Unfair challenge on Gael Bigirimana by Danny Butterfield results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Oliver Norwood.

42:01

Foul by Richard Lambert on Jordan Clarke, free kick awarded. Jordan Willis restarts play with the free kick.

40:50

The ball is delivered by Richard Lambert, Martin Cranie manages to make a clearance.

40:08

Adam Lallana takes a shot. Blocked by Jordan Willis.

37:47

Danny Butterfield delivers the ball.

36:14 Substitution

Substitution Jack Cork joins the action as a substitute, replacing Dean Hammond.

33:19 Substitution

Substitution Gary McSheffrey goes off and Will Roberts comes on.

27:44

The ball is delivered by Carl Baker.

22:24

Foul by Billy Sharp on Chris Hussey, free kick awarded. Martin Cranie takes the direct free kick.

21:55

Gary McSheffrey takes a outswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, Guly Do Prado makes a clearance.

21:21

Carl Baker takes a shot. Save by Kelvin Davis. Short corner taken by Gary McSheffrey from the right by-line.

20:10

The official flags Cody McDonald offside. Jose Fonte takes the free kick.

18:38

Daniel Fox provided the assist for the goal.

18:38 Goal scored

Goal! - Jose Fonte - Southamp'n 2 - 0 Coventry Jose Fonte finds the back of the net with a headed goal from inside the penalty box. Southampton 2-0 Coventry.

18:09

Corner taken by Daniel Fox from the right by-line,

15:46

The assist for the goal came from Adam Lallana.

15:46 Goal scored

Goal! - Billy Sharp - Southamp'n 1 - 0 Coventry Goal scored by Billy Sharp from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Southampton 1-0 Coventry.

15:40

Adam Lallana takes a shot. Billy Sharp gets a block in. The ball is swung over by Richard Lambert, Jordan Clarke manages to make a clearance.

15:24

Dean Hammond crosses the ball, Martin Cranie makes a clearance.

14:25

Shot by Daniel Fox from outside the box goes over the net.

13:27

Carl Baker has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the goal.

12:33

Short corner taken by Carl Baker from the right by-line. Gary McSheffrey decides to take a short corner.

10:56

Centre by Daniel Fox.

9:32

The assistant referee flags for offside against Cody McDonald. Indirect free kick taken by Kelvin Davis.

8:30

The ball is swung over by Carl Baker.

8:05

Gary McSheffrey takes a shot. Save made by Kelvin Davis. Corner taken short by Carl Baker.

7:41

Short corner taken by Carl Baker.

7:17

Centre by Adam Lallana, comfortable save by Joe Murphy.

5:03

Unfair challenge on Conor Thomas by Dean Hammond results in a free kick. Joe Murphy takes the direct free kick.

3:58

The official flags Chris Hussey offside. Kelvin Davis takes the indirect free kick.

1:28

A cross is delivered by Carl Baker.

0:00

The referee gets the game underway.

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