ANTOLIN Alcaraz headed a priceless goal five minutes from time to keep Wigan Athletic in the Premier League for an eighth season and send Blackburn Rovers into the Championship.
The three points were enough to secure Wigan’s top flight status and moved them up to 15th in the table.
On a soaking wet night at Ewood Park both sides struggled to get anything meaningful on target but Latics had the majority of possession, especially before the break.
The only thing of note Ali Al Habsi had to do during the entire game was catch a rogue chicken that had been smuggled into the stadium, bedecked in Blackburn colours.
That aside, the keeper was untroubled with Latics having the greater efforts on target.
Alcaraz rose in the closing stages to head in a corner which had too much power for Rovers keeper Paul Robinson.
Chairman Dave Whelan said: “First of all I’m really sorry that we’ve sent Rovers down tonight. I’ve got mixed emotions and spent some wonderful times here.
“Roberto Martinez has proved once and for all that he is an absolutely top quality manager.
“We can’t match the likes of Man City and Man Utd. We’re the smallest club in the Premier League, but we’re a very happy club and I’d like to thank all the fans for their support.
“On Sunday we’ve got some serious business. We’ve got to get three points as it’s a lot of money for every place higher you finish.
“Eventually Roberto will move on and will manage at one of the top clubs in Europe but hopefully we can keep him here for another couple of years.”
Martinez said: “It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s unbelieveable. The players deserve tremendous credit, they have shown real mental toughness and are a massive credit to the club, the chairman and the town.”
FULL REPORT AND REACTION IN THE WIGAN EVENING POST (TUESDAY) ...