Premier League - Wolves survive despite defeat

Sun, 22 May 18:03:00 2011

Blackburn Rovers beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 at Molineux on an afternoon of incredible drama which saw both sides preserve their Premier League status.

Match Highlights: Wolves 2

First-half strikes from Jason Roberts, Brett Emerton and Junior Hoilett gave Rovers a 3-0 cushion and left Mick McCarthy's side in the 'virtual' bottom three at half-time.

Jamie O'Hara pulled a goal back on 73 minutes but with three minutes to go Wolves were looking at second-tier football before Stephen Hunt scored a superb effort that lifted the Old Gold above Birmingham on goals scored.

The Blues then conceded a late second to lose at Tottenham as Wolves finished in 17th place on 40 points, one point above their Midlands rivals who will be joined by Blackpool in the Championship next season.

Blackburn began the day on 40 points and were also in danger of joining West Ham United in relegation but Roberts settled East Lancashire nerves when he opened the scoring midway through the first-half to mark his 200th Premier League appearance.

Emerton picked out Hoilett on the right side of the penalty area and he teed up Michel Salgado whose scuffed shot deflected off the big striker, who never made a first-team appearance during his spell at Molineux, to wrong foot Wayne Hennessey.

Blackburn were causing the hosts trouble with long free-kicks into the penalty area and the second came from that route.

A long free-kick from Paul Robinson was headed clear but only into the path of Australian Emerton who volleyed home from 20 yards.

A third almost followed immediately but only a superb fingertip save from Hennessey denied the hugely impressive Hoilett.

But the young Canadian forward did increase the lead in first-half injury time with some sublime skill.

Again it was a route one pump up field from Robinson which Roberts flicked on but the 20-year-old showed superb composure as he cut inside two defenders before lashing an unstoppable shot past Hennessey.

There were worried faces at half-time with the Wolves fans knowing that with the games featuring Birmingham, Blackpool and Wigan all level, they had been sucked into the 'virtual' bottom three on goal difference.

McCarthy's side had barely tested Robinson in the opening period and the manager showed attacking intent by bringing on striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake for central defender Michael Mancienne at the start of the second period.

It almost brought instant dividends but Hunt headed wide from 10 yards although the noise levels in the ground increased as Tottenham opened the scoring against Birmingham to lift Wolves to safety.

Roberts then spurned a golden opportunity to make it 4-0 as Kevin Foley made a complete hash of Emerton's cross from the right only for Hennessey to get down to his left to deny the striker from eight yards.

Wolves then reduced the arrears via a beautifully worked free-kick as Hunt teed up O'Hara who had peeled away from his defender and the on-loan midfielder curled his shot into the corner.

A superb save from Robinson, who flicked over Steven Fletcher's header, came almost at the same time as Manchester United regained the lead against Blackpool to see Wolves climb to 'virtual' 16th place.

Then Jermaine Jones hooked off his own line from Stephen Ward as Wolves laid siege to the Rovers goal only for the ground to fall silent as both Wigan and Birmingham scored in quick succession to leave Wolves staring at demotion with 10 minutes of the season remaining.

But Molineux erupted as a long punt downfield from Hennessey was collected by Hunt on the edge of the penalty area and he curled a superb shot into the top corner.

With Blackburn happy to protect the three points and Wolves surviving only on goals scored an impasse followed with the hosts happy to play keep ball and hope that events did not go against them at White Hart Lane.

Instead Roman Pavlyuchenko became the toast of the Black Country by scoring the winner that condemned Alex McLeish's men and the final whistle was greeted with a crowd invasion as Wolves celebrated an incredible escape.

Lee Walker - Follow me on Twitter @leewalk498 / Eurosport

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