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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blackburn relegated after home loss to Wigan

AP

BLACKBURN, England — Blackburn was relegated from the Premier League, with Wigan ensuring its survival in a 1-0 victory Monday night on Antolin Alcaraz's goal in the 87th minute.

News photo
A lot at stake: Wigan's Shaun Maloney (left) and Blackburn's Morten Pedersen vie for the ball in Premier League action on Monday night at Ewood Park. Wigan won 1-0. AFP-JIJI

Blackburn, the 1995 champion, is 19th at 8-22-7 and will go down to next season's League Championship along with last-place Wolverhampton (5-22-10). The third team to be relegated will be determined Sunday.

Blackburn fans spent much of the game protesting against manager Steve Kean.

"I've got nothing but admiration and respect for him," Blackburn defender Bradley Orr said. "It's not through lack of effort but we fell short as a group of players, and it's resulted in relegation. I can't put my finger on why, it's really hard to take."

Wigan (10-17-10) won for the sixth time in eight games and improved to 15th place.

"It doesn't seem real yet," Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said. "It's a great feeling because you could feel the tension."

There were ugly scenes at the final whistle when some Blackburn fans ran onto the field at Ewood Park. Earlier, a chicken was released onto the field, a pointed reminder of the home supporters' antipathy toward owner Venky's, a chicken-meat company.

Going into Sunday's season finales, three teams are at risk of relegation. Aston Villa (7-13-17) has 38 points, one ahead of Queens Park Rangers (10-20-7) and three in front of Bolton (10-22-5). Aston Villa is at Norwich, Bolton at Stoke and QPR at Manchester City.

Aston Villa is the safest, holding a plus-7 goal difference advantage over Bolton.

Manchester City (27-5-5), seeking its first league title since 1968, leads crosstown rival Manchester United on goal difference, plus 63 to plus 55. The top two teams haven't finished even on points since 1989, when Arsenal and Liverpool also had the same goal difference and the Gunners won on total goals, 73-65.

Reading and Southampton earned promotion by finishing 1-2 in the League Championship. West Ham advanced to the final of the promotion playoff for the third spot, beating visiting Cardiff 3-0 Monday on goals by, Kevin Nolan, Ricardo Vaz Te and Nicky Maynard for a 5-0 aggregate win.

In the other semifinal, Blackpool takes a 1-0 lead to Birmingham for Tuesday's second leg. The winners meet at Wembley Stadium on May 19.



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