Blackpool, Birmingham demoted; United get trophy

Updated: 23 May 2011 13:42 IST

Blackpool and Birmingham were relegated on Sunday's dramatic final day of the Premier League season, each letting slip a chance of survival as Wigan scored late to secure the result it needed to stay up.

Blackpool, Birmingham demoted; United get trophy

London:

Blackpool and Birmingham were relegated on Sunday's dramatic final day of the Premier League season, each letting slip a chance of survival as Wigan scored late to secure the result it needed to stay up.


Both Blackpool and Birmingham were on course to stay up for long periods, with lowly Blackpool seemingly on the verge of a remarkable escape when it led 2-1 at Manchester United early in the second half.

But the champions scored three times in 20 minutes to end the Tangerines' single-season stay in the topflight, while Birmingham conceded a last-minute goal at Tottenham to lose 2-1 and fill the final relegation spot.

Blackpool finished in 19th place, six points ahead of already demoted West Ham. Birmingham was ahead of Blackpool only on goal difference, while Wolverhampton Wanderers survived by a single point after losing 3-2 to Blackburn.

Wigan climbed three places and finished three points clear of danger after Hugo Rodallega's 78th-minute goal secured a 1-0 win at Stoke.

"We've been at the bottom all season and on the final day we get this," Wigan owner Dave Whelan said. "You could tell from our fans when they started cheering that Manchester United or Tottenham had scored."

The loss of television revenue means that relegation costs a club about 40 million pounds ($65 million), but Whelan said that was not his main concern.

"It's not the money, I promise you," Whelan said. "It's staying in the Premier League."

Blackpool was never expected to even be in the Premier League but threw off its tag of favorite for relegation to the third tier to win last season's promotion playoffs.

It slipped toward the bottom of the standings over the second half of this season but looked likely to stay around for another year when it recovered from Park Ji-sung's 21st-minute opener at Old Trafford.

Charlie Adam curled in a 20-meter (yard) free kick in the 40th and, 17 minutes later, Gary Taylor-Fletcher rounded off a flowing move with a neat side-foot finish to the far post.

Although Anderson equalized in the 62nd, a draw was good enough at that point to keep Blackpool up because of results elsewhere. But defender Ian Evatt, who played in all 38 of Blackpool's Premier League matches, scored a 74th-minute own goal when he diverted a cross past his own goalkeeper.

Rodallega put Wigan ahead at Stoke moments later with a goal that left Blackpool needing either victory or an equalizer combined with a heavy defeat for Wolves.

Instead, Michael Owen added another goal for United and Wolves further trimmed what had been a 3-0 halftime deficit against Blackburn to 3-2 with three minutes remaining.

"After taking the lead, we had started to believe we can do this," Blackpool manager Ian Holloway said. "But United brought on Wayne Rooney, they're used to winning and we lost out.

"That aside, we've been absolutely outstanding and it's hard to take."

Despite a career in which he scored 40 goals for England and won multiple trophies with Liverpool, the 31-year-old Owen had never previously won the Premier League.

"You never know what twists and turn your career is going to take," Owen said. "To have won the league is probably the pinnacle of anyone's career.

"If we can win the Champions League next week, I'll have the full set."

Owen played most of the season as a substitute behind Dimitar Berbatov, who finished as the league's leading scorer with 20 goals alongside Manchester City's Carlos Tevez.

United, which plays Barcelona at Wembley in Saturday's Champions League final, was presented with the Premier League trophy after beating Blackpool.

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar captained United on his last Premier League appearance before retiring at the end of the season.

A week after clinching a record 19th English championship, United finished with 80 points - the fewest for a Premier League champion since 2001. Chelsea finished nine points behind after losing 1-0 at Everton, ahead of Manchester City only on goal difference after the FA Cup winner won 2-0 at Bolton.

Arsenal avoided losing three straight for the first time in three years but was three points further back in fourth after securing a 2-2 draw at Fulham only through Theo Walcott's 89th-minute goal.

While the top three automatically qualify for next year's Champions League, the Gunners now face a playoff to enter the lucrative tournament.

Roman Pavlyuchenko's two goals for Tottenham beat Birmingham and clinched fifth place for Spurs, which will enter the Europa League. Liverpool finished four points behind in sixth after losing 1-0 at Aston Villa.

Everton, Fulham and Villa came next, with Sunderland in 10th place after a 3-0 win at West Ham. Somen Tchoyi's second-half hat trick rescued a 3-3 draw for 11th-place West Bromwich Albion at Newcastle in the day's other match.

The final day's tally of 32 goals took the total for the season to a record 1,062, beating the previous mark set in 1999-2000 by two.



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