Antolin Alcaraz headed a late winner as Wigan condemned Blackburn to relegation and ensured their own Premier League survival last night.
The Latics defender powered in from a corner with four minutes remaining as the visitors completed their remarkable survival act and hammered the final nail in Rovers’ miserable season.
Blackburn supporters, perhaps already resigned to their fate, had turned the game into one long protest against manager Steve Kean and owners Venky’s and several invaded the pitch at the final whistle.
A live chicken had even been released early in the game, presumably in protest against Indian poultry giants Venky’s, whose takeover in 2010 is pinpointed by many as the start of the club’s demise.
The hen, draped in Rovers colours, walked around Ali Al Habsi’s goal area before it was caught by the Wigan keeper and Blackburn striker Ayegbeni Yakubu and carried away by a steward. By then there had already been several anti-Kean or Venky’s chants from the supporters. The winner came from a corner as time ran out.
Alcaraz timed his leap superbly to meet Beausejour’s deep cross and powered a header goalwards, which Robinson could not palm out.
The Wigan players all ran to the Paraguay international while their large 3,500 following celebrated jubilantly.
Rovers fans, by contrast, continued their protests with some throwing off their shirts and others invading the pitch at the final whistle.
Wigan included Ireland midfielder James McCarthy in their squad just hours after he pulled out of the squad for Euro 2012 due to his father’s cancer diagnosis and manager Roberto Martinez praised the performance of his side during the last 13 games of the season which culminated in last night’s crucial win.
“It doesn’t seem real yet,” Martinez told Sky. “Its a great feeling because you could feel the tension and it was a cagey affair. To do that and to keep a clean sheet — to have that and what it means is incredible. Eight years in the Premier League
“It’s been a great run but football is about the players. It’s very easy to say the right things but what matters is when you cross the white line to be brave.
“All I do is allow them to enjoy their football and the credit goes to the players.
“You get really high pressure. We’ve been in the bottom three for a long time. They made the football club proud and the chairman proud.”
BLACKBURN: Robinson, Orr (Goodwillie 80), Dann, Givet (Petrovic 46), Martin Olsson, Hoilett, Dunn (Marcus Olsson 44), Lowe, Pedersen, Modeste, Yakubu.
WIGAN: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour, Moses, Di Santo (Sammon 85), Maloney.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
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