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Roberto Martinez credits players with beating the drop

It's all about the players! Martinez hails Wigan stars after beating the drop

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UPDATED:

23:07 GMT, 7 May 2012

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez hailed his players after they beat Blackburn 1-0 at Ewood Park to secure their future in the Barclays Premier League while condemning Rovers to the npower Championship.

Only a win would have saved Steve Kean's side from relegation, but Antolin Alcaraz's 87th-minute header handed Wigan the points and sealed Blackburn's fate in a nervy game.

Martinez praised the performance of his side during the last 13 games of the season which culminated in tonight's crucial win.

Pure delight: Wigan secured their Premier League survival with a win

Pure delight: Wigan secured their Premier League survival with a win

'It doesn't seem real yet,' Martinez said. '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 and arrogant.

'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.'

Wigan owner Dave Whelan revealed he has mixed emotions following the result but was full of praise for the achievements of Martinez.

Salute: Wigan boss Roberto Martinez

Salute: Wigan boss Roberto Martinez

'I'm really sorry that we put Rovers down,' Whelan, a former Blackburn player, also said on Sky Sports 1. 'I had 11 fantastic years here. Of course I'm Wigan Athletic through and through but I'm really sorry Rovers have gone down.

'He (Martinez) has had faith from day one and we had a really tough start to the season but he always believed and had faith in this players.

'As the season has gone along we've played better and better and I think Roberto has proved once and for all that he is a quality manger.

'I believe Roberto will go to one of the top European clubs when the time is right but hopefully we can hold on to him for one or more years.

'We can't do things like Man City and Man Utd and the big clubs but if we can be in the top half of the Premier League it would be a wonderful achievement.'

Wigan captain Gary Caldwell spoke of his relief after his side avoided the drop for the second season in a row.

Contrasting emotions: Wigan's win condemned Blackburn to relegation

Contrasting emotions: Wigan's win condemned Blackburn to relegation

'I'm happy. We put ourselves in a very precarious position early in the season and as a club we have to be better than that,' Caldwell said. 'Our start to the season wasn't good enough. All credit to everyone at the football club as we dug in.'

Caldwell also hailed the calm Martinez brought to the side in the latter stages of the campaign.

'(He deserves) great credit,' he added. 'When everyone else started panicking and the world tells you you're going down he stays calm and remains true to his principles.

'We showed great belief in our system and our style of play. This has to be the platform for the football club to progress and moved on.'

Blackburn 0 Wigan 1: Antolin Alacaraz secures Latics survival and Rovers relegation

Blackburn 0 Wigan 1: Rel-egg-ated! Rovers down as Alacaraz secures Latics survival

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UPDATED:

20:56 GMT, 7 May 2012

Antolin Alcaraz's 87th-minute header secured Barclays Premier League survival for Wigan Athletic and relegation to the Championship for Blackburn Rovers.

The Paraguayan defender settled a miserable contest at Ewood Park more notable for an early pitch invasion by a chicken – released by Rovers fans in protest against poultry-giant owners Venky's – than any action in a dismal game.

Blackburn boss Steve Kean was also the subject of furious protests from the home fans, but Wigan manager Roberto Martinez can reflect on another superb and successful fight against relegation.

More to follow.

Match-winner: Antolin Alcaraz (fourth left) heads in the decisive goal at Ewood Park

Match-winner: Antolin Alcaraz (fourth left) heads in the decisive goal at Ewood Park

Pitch invader: A chicken was released in protest against Blackburn owners, Venky's

Pitch invader: A chicken was released in protest against Blackburn owners, Venky's

Restless natives: Blackburn fans protested against Venky's and manager Steve Kean

Restless natives: Blackburn fans protested against Venky's and manager Steve Kean

Seen enough: A Blackburn fan throws his ticket at manager Kean a before being escorted away by police

Seen enough: A Blackburn fan throws his ticket at manager Kean a before being escorted away by police

Mischievous: A plane flies over Ewood Park with a message of support for Venky's from Burnley fans

Mischievous: A plane flies over Ewood Park with a message of support for Venky's from Burnley fans

To the rescue: Wigan goalkeeper Al Habsi catches the cockerel in the goal-net

To the rescue: Wigan goalkeeper Al Habsi catches the cockerel in the goal-net

Game for a laugh: Yakubu and Ali Al Habsi watch on as the cockerel makes its way across the pitch

Game for a laugh: Yakubu and Ali Al Habsi watch on as the cockerel makes its way across the pitch

Agony: Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean (right) reacts with frustration during the game

Agony: Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean (right) reacts with frustration during the game

Wigan 2 Stoke 0: Alcaraz and Moses on the scoresheet as Latics revival continues

Wigan 2 Stoke 0: Alcaraz and Moses ensure Latics revival gathers momentum

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UPDATED:

16:29 GMT, 31 March 2012

Goals from Antolin Alcaraz and Victor Moses earned Wigan their first Barclays Premier League win at the DW Stadium for seven months as they deservedly saw off Stoke to boost their survival hopes.

Not since Roberto Martinez's men beat QPR 2-0 in August had the Latics picked up three points at home while they also made it back-to-back wins for the first time all season following last weekend's victory over Liverpool at Anfield.

It had seemed like it would be another case of what might have been when Franco Di Santo and Jean Beausejour missed glorious chances in the first half but Alcaraz headed in emphatically in the 54th minute and Moses made sure in injury time.

Winner: Antolin Alcaraz of Wigan Athletic heads home the only goal of the game

Winner: Antolin Alcaraz of Wigan Athletic heads home the only goal of the game

MATCH FACTS

Wigan: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour (Sammon 87), Moses, Di Santo (Gomez 81), Maloney (Ben Watson 70).

Subs Not Used: Kirkland, Crusat, Jones, Stam.

Booked: Beausejour, Boyce.

Goals: Alcaraz 54, Moses 90.

Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Pennant (Palacios 65), Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington (Jerome 49), Crouch, Walters (Fuller 65).

Subs Not Used: Sorensen, Jones, Upson, Shotton.

Booked: Wilson,Whelan,Whitehead,Wilkinson.

Att: 19,786

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

The only negative for Wigan was victories for fellow strugglers QPR and Bolton, which meant they stayed in the bottom three on goal difference.

Stoke brought good memories for the Latics, who have lost only once to Tony Pulis' side in the Premier League and secured their top-flight status with a 1-0 win at the Britannia Stadium on the final day of last season.

The visitors, playing their 49th game of a hectic campaign, had the first chance when Ryan Shawcross got his head to a Jermaine Pennant corner but Ali Al Habsi was alert.

And moments later a mistake from Andy Wilkinson let in Di Santo but the Argentinian never looked entirely confident running at Asmir Begovic, who nevertheless did well to block the shot.

Wigan continued to press for the opener and Begovic had to be alert to keep out Shaun Maloney's volley in the 15th minute, while Stoke had a rare opening thanks to a miscued clearance from Emmerson Boyce but Jon Walters steered his volley just wide.

Wigan really only had themselves to blame for failing to take the lead five minutes before the break when Moses sent a perfect cross along the six yard line but Beausejour somehow failed to guide the ball into an empty net.

The bobbly pitch arguably did the winger no favours but it really was an astonishing miss.

Hope: Wigan celebrate as they take the lead against Stoke

Hope: Wigan celebrate as they take the lead against Stoke

Wigan wanted a penalty in the opening minute of the second half when Dean Whitehead handled but referee Mark Clattenburg was unmoved despite being surrounded by Latics players.

Stoke made their first substitution a couple of minutes later, with Cameron Jerome replacing Matthew Etherington, who looked like he was still struggling following a first half tackle from Boyce.

Leading from the front: Roberto Martinez celebrates as his Wigan side earn the three points

Leading from the front: Roberto Martinez celebrates as his Wigan side earn the three points

Wigan had resumed their pressing and probing and in the 54th minute they finally found a moment of precision to take the lead.

Maloney, who had caused Stoke
problems all afternoon, played in Beausejour down the left and he made
up for his horror miss with a lovely cross to pick out defender Alcaraz,
who powered a header into the bottom corner for his first Wigan goal of
the season.

Sitter: Jean Beausejour (right) misses an open goal for Wigan in the first half

Sitter: Jean Beausejour (right) misses an open goal for Wigan in the first half

Pulis responded with a double change, sending on Ricardo Fuller and Wilson Palacios for Pennant and Walters, while Ben Watson replaced the impressive Maloney for Wigan.

Beausejour certainly had not worn his shooting boots and another golden chance went begging in the 72nd minute.

Battle: Victor Moses tries to get past Andy Wilkinson as Wigan record another win

Battle: Victor Moses tries to get past Andy Wilkinson as Wigan record another win

The winger was inexplicably left completely unmarked at the back post when Watson swung over a free-kick but again he scuffed his shot and Begovic saved easily.

Stoke fashioned their first chance of the second half 78 minutes in as Wilkinson swung over a cross from the right for Shawcross but the defender could only nod wide.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Wigan's Victor Moses scores his sides second goal to wrap up victory

Signed, sealed, delivered: Wigan's Victor Moses scores his sides second goal to wrap up victory

Wigan were beginning to get a little nervy and some hesitant defending allowed Jerome to fire a shot over the bar, but they also continued to look dangerous in attack and Begovic did well to deny substitute Jordi Gomez.

And the hosts made sure of the points in injury time when Wilkinson again wanted too much time and was robbed by Moses, who did what Di Santo could not, rounding Begovic and slotting home.

Pile on: Wigan players celebrate with Moses (hidden) as they record back-to-back Premier League wins

Pile on: Wigan players celebrate with Moses (hidden) as they record back-to-back Premier League wins

Manchester United 5 Wigan 0: Dimitar Berbatov scores hat-trick

Manchester United 5 Wigan 0: Berbatov treble turns heat up on title rivals City

Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat-trick as Manchester United muscled their way level with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

City still hold the advantage on goal difference, but even that lead was cut to five by United”s second successive five-goal triumph.

It was tough luck on Wigan, whose chance disappeared once Conor Sammon was sent off for catching Michael Carrick with his elbow just before the break.

Welcome back: Michael Carrick congratulates Dimitar Berbatov on his first goal

Welcome back: Michael Carrick congratulates Dimitar Berbatov on his first goal

Firing home: Berbatov grabs his first goal at Old Trafford

Firing home: Berbatov grabs his first goal at Old Trafford

Remember me Berbatov takes the plaudits against Wigan

Remember me Berbatov takes the plaudits against Wigan

Match facts

Man Utd: Lindegaard, Valencia, Evans (Fryers 46), Carrick, Evra, Park, Gibson, Giggs (Rooney 64), Nani (Macheda 64), Berbatov, Hernandez.
Subs Not Used: De Gea, Welbeck, Rafael Da Silva, Diouf.
Booked: Evans,Giggs.
Goals: Park 8,Berbatov 41,58,Valencia 75,Berbatov 78 pen.

Wigan: Al Habsi, Stam, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Jones, Diame (Di Santo 46), McCarthy, Gomez (McArthur 71),
Moses (Rodallega 80), Sammon.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt,Gohouri,Crusat,Watson.
Sent Off: Sammon (39).
Booked: Jones.
Att: 75,183
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

Already leading through Ji-sung Park”s early goal, United took maximum advantage.Berbatov doubled their lead before half-time, then scored twice more, bringing back memories of his form in the first half of last season, when he claimed three match balls.

On this occasion, he owed the honour to Wayne Rooney, who stepped aside to let him take the penalty after Park had been fouled by Antolin Alcaraz.

The excellent Antonio Valencia was also on target to ensure Sir Alex Ferguson will be handed the perfect 70th birthday present of a place on top of the table should his side overcome Blackburn on New Year”s Eve, given City are not in action until24 hours later.

If there was one game where Ferguson might not have been too alarmed to field a defence including Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia, this was it.

Festive cheer: Wigan fans dressed up for the Boxing Day showdown

Festive cheer: Wigan fans dressed up for the Boxing Day showdown

Wigan had not managed so much as a draw in 13 previous meetings between the sides and the combined score from their past four encounters was 16-0.

United soon added to their tally as Patrice Evra slalomed his way into the Wigan box, then picked out Ji-sung Park with a neat cut-back.

The South Korean had enough space to pick his spot, into the top right corner, well out of Ali Al Habsi”s reach.

United continued to create chances at regular intervals, with Nani, Berbatov and Darron Gibson all trying their luck.

However, Wigan were not content to play the meek visitors and with Victor Moses building on recent impressive performances and Ronnie Stam exploiting the hosts” lack of anorthodox left-sided midfield player, created just as many chances as their hosts early on.

Opener: Ji-sung Park slots home to open the floodgates for the champions

Opener: Ji-sung Park slots home to open the floodgates for the champions

Take that: Park wheels away after putting United ahead in the match

Take that: Park wheels away after putting United ahead in the match

Sammon wasted the best, turning on toDavid Jones” pass but drilling a shot straight at Anders Lindegaard. The Irishman”s day quickly got much worse, and any chance Wigan had disappeared.

There is no doubt Sammon”s arm did end up in Carrick”s face, offering referee Phil Dowd the opportunity to send him off. However, it did appear the Wigan man was attempting to useit as a barrier to shield a bouncing ball from his opponent.

There was no malice, and very little force, behind the action and Latics chief Roberto Martinez was not on his own in believing his side had been harshly treated. And, as good sides do, United quickly exploited the situation.

Had injury not struck him down in August, Gibson might well have moved on in the summer. As it was, Ferguson was probably glad to have him available for this one. Off you go: Conor Sammon looks at the United players after being dismissed

Off you go: Conor Sammon looks at the United players after being dismissed

Make that four: Antonio Valencia lashes home to add to the total

Make that four: Antonio Valencia lashes home to add to the total

The Irishman delivered a teasing cross from the right flank, which ended up with Berbatov. Making only his second Premier League start of the season, United”s record signing took some time to get the ball under control.

However, he had the strength to hold off Antolin Alcaraz and drilled his shot past Al Habsi. The departure ofEvans at half-time led to Evra becoming possibly becoming United”s shortest ever central defender.

He was limping too not long afterwards, although that proved to be a false alarm. There did not seemmuch wrong with the Frenchman when he went straight through the back ofMoses anyway.

Jones curled the free-kick narrowly wide, which turned out to be Wigan”s last opportunity before United struck again. Valencia was having a quietly effective game and his prodded pass left Berbatov with enough space and time to smash his shot beyond Al Habsi.

Having fallen so far behind Manchester City in the goal difference stakes, United sensed it was timeto start making up some ground. Valencia”s excellent performance continued when he drilled his first Premier League goal of the season into the bottom left corner.

Then, after Park was chopped down in the box by Alcaraz, substitute Rooney let Berbatov finish off his hat-trick.

Spot on: Berbatov slides home his penalty to complete his hat-trick

Spot on: Berbatov slides home his penalty to complete his hat-trick

Delight: Berbatov with his match ball Pleased: Sir Alex Ferguson with Nani

Delight: Berbatov grabs the match ball for his hat-trick, while Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with Nani