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Blackpool’s Holloway Devastated by Relegation; Birmingham Drops

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway. Photographer: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Blackpool manager Ian Holloway. Photographer: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway called his team’s relegation from the Premier League “devastating” following a final-day loss that sent the Tangerines down only a year after winning promotion.

Blackpool was beaten 4-2 at champion Manchester United, while Birmingham lost 2-1 at Tottenham in yesterday’s final round of games. Both join West Ham in dropping to English soccer’s second-tier Championship.

“It’s devastating,” Blackpool manager Ian Holloway told Sky Sports. “I don’t think we deserve it.”

Blackburn, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan were also at risk of demotion. Blackburn beat Wolves 3-2, while Wigan won 1-0 at Stoke City. All three retain their top-flight status.

“I think all the players showed belief,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez told Sky Sports. “It’s an amazing, amazing achievement.”

Blackburn finished with 43 points, Wigan 42, Wolves 40, with Birmingham and Blackpool on 39. West Ham had 33.

Arsenal will face a qualifying match at the start of next season to play in Europe’s elite Champions League after finishing behind Manchester City in fourth. The Gunners were held to a 2-2 draw at Fulham, with City securing a 2-0 win at Bolton.

Blackpool’s stay in the Premier League lasts only one year, with the Tangerines giving up a 2-1 lead at United before succumbing to a 19th defeat in 38 league matches this season.

Holloway said before the game his team would attack United and the first chance arrived within the opening minute at Old Trafford.

Park Scores

Charlie Adam crossed for Keith Southern, who was only able to drag his shot wide.

United took a 21st-minute lead, Park Ji-Sung beating goalkeeper Matthew Gilks after collecting a pass from Dimitar Berbatov. Gilks saved from Berbatov soon after and five minutes before halftime the teams were level.

Adam, linked in U.K. newspapers with a move from Blackpool, fired a 25-yard free kick past Edwin van der Sar, who was making his final league appearance before retiring.

On 57 minutes, Gary Taylor-Fletcher flicked the ball past van der Sar from close range and the visitor appeared set to stay in the division.

But only five minutes later Anderson tied the game. Blackpool’s Ian Evatt then turned a Chris Smalling cross into his own net before former England striker Michael Owen came off the bench to add a fourth goal.

Two goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko, including one in injury time, condemned Birmingham to relegation. Craig Gardner had given the Blues hope when he equalized after 79 minutes.

McLeish’s Vow

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish vowed to remain with the Blues to spearhead promotion back to the Premier League.

“I’ve been knocked down and I’m going to rise to it,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s going to be a pretty horrible couple of days -- or summer I suppose -- but I’ve got to work to get Birmingham back to the Premier League.”

A Hugo Rodallega goal on 78 minutes gave Wigan a win to keep its spot in the league, and Jason Roberts, Brett Emerton and Junior Hoilett got first-half goals in Blackburn’s victory. Wolves staged a fightback with strikes from Jamie O’Hara and Stephen Hunt, but in the end other results meant the club could not be relegated.

Elsewhere, second-place Chelsea ended its campaign with a 1-0 defeat at Everton and only finishes ahead of Man City because of a superior goal difference.

Joleon Lescott and Edin Dzeko were City’s scorers at the Reebok Stadium. Arsenal needed to better City’s result to take this spot and avoid Champions League qualifying. The Gunners could only tie, with Theo Walcott’s 89th-minute goal earning a point for Arsene Wenger’s team.

Already relegated West Ham was beaten 3-0 at home by Sunderland, and West Bromwich Albion rallied from three goals down to tie 3-3 at Newcastle. Aston Villa defeated Liverpool 1-0.

A Premier League record 1,062 goals were scored this season, beating the mark of 1,060 set in the 1999-2000 campaign. It includes 32 scored yesterday.

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