Premier League - West Ham suffer relegation

Sun, 15 May 19:15:00 2011

West Ham have sacked manager Avram Grant after a 3-2 defeat at Wigan condemned the London club to relegation from the Premier League.

Match Highlights: Wigan 3

Grant was given his marching orders within a couple of hours of an astonishing match at the DW Stadium that saw Wigan score three times in the second half to keep alive their own hopes of survival.

Demba Ba scored two headers in the first period to give Grant's team a 2-0 lead at half-time, but their day began to unravel when Charles N'Zogbia hammered home a superb free-kick early in the second period.

Substitute Conor Sammon scored his first goal for Wigan to level matters on 68 minutes before N'Zogbia added his second of the day deep into stoppage time as his shot somehow squirmed under visiting keeper Robert Green, who had made some splendid saves in a match that raged from end to end throughout a frantic afternoon.

While West Ham will face life in the Championship next term, Wigan have given themselves a real chance of avoiding the drop.

Wigan are level with Blackpool and Birmingham on 39 points while Blackburn and Wolves are a point further ahead on 40 points as the season heads for a nerve-shredding final day.

Wigan know that they have every chance of staying in the Premier League if they win at Stoke next Sunday. For West Ham, there are only regrets.

They had plenty of chances to win the match, but were penalised for making too many errors in defence in a match that typified the shoddy and inconsistent nature of their campaign.

With skipper Scott Parker left on the bench due to injury, West Ham looked to be up against it knowing that they needed a win to stay alive in the top flight.

West Ham required Fulham to win at Birmingham to avoid the drop. Their London rivals did their bit with a 2-0 win at St Andrews, and it looked good for West Ham as they built up a 2-0 lead at the break.

A delightful cross from Thomas Hitzlsperger saw Ba rise to nod home on 12 minutes after Mohamed Diame had lifted a shot over the bar for Wigan moments earlier.

They added a second goal on 26 minutes courtesy of another fine finish from Ba with his head after James Tomkins had rose to nod Hitzlsperger's free-kick back across goal.

Ben Watson hacked Frederic Piquionne's effort off the line on 34 minutes with Ba set to pounce while Green produced excellent saves to keep out efforts from Diame and a Hugo Rodallega overhead kick.

Rodallega somehow managed to head the ball straight at Green minutes before the break, but Wigan's luck would turn in the second period as home manager Roberto Martinez threw caution to the wind by throwing on Sammon and Victor Moses for James McCarthy and Tom Cleverly at half-time.

N'Zogbia walloped a free-kick high into the right-hand corner of Green's net on 57 minutes after the Frenchman had been decked by Tomkins. With both teams throwing bodies forward in a search for goals, chances came and went but Sammon turned Daniel Gabbidon inside out before firping the ball past Green to make it 2-2.

There was already a plane circling the DW Stadium by this stage that read 'Avram Grant - MIllwall legend' as a series of wincing expressions began to emanate from the visiting support.

Danny Gabbidon was lucky to stay on the park in the final 10 minutes after bringing down Sammon as he raced clear. There was no contact with the ball, but the referee Mike Dean missed it.

Carlon Cole somehow failed to score from Hitzlsperger's cross two minutes into four added on while Watson saw an effort hit a post and bounce back into Green's arms with the visitors committed to attack.

West Ham were already facing relegation by that stage, but there was despair on the face of the 4,500 West Ham fans when Green let a shot by N'Zogbia from inside the area slip out of his grasp and trickle under him in a moment that was a grimly fitting way for West Ham to end their time in the Premier League having last tasted relegation in 2003.

Eurosport

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