Blackburn edge closer to safety, QPR promoted

Reuters

Sat, 30 Apr 18:30:00 2011

* Blackburn end 11-game winless run to climb table

* Wigan, Blackpool held at home

* QPR back in Premier League after 15 years (adds detail, quotes)

Blackburn Rovers edged towards Premier League safety by beating Bolton Wanderers 1-0 as none of their main relegation rivals could find a win on Saturday.

Martin Olsson's goal after 20 minutes ended Blackburn's 11-game winless run and took them up one place to 15th in the 20-team standings on 38 points with three games remaining.

Wigan Athletic, who drew 1-1 at home to Everton, remain in the last relegation place while Blackpool, goalless at home to Stoke City, also have 35 points and are one place higher.

The bottom two sides, Wolverhampton Wanderers (33) and West Ham United (32), are playing on Sunday while Birmingham City, with 38 points and Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Sunderland, all on 41, are still not certain of safety.

Sunderland lost 3-0 at home to Fulham while Villa went down 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion who are now up to 11th on 43 points.

Queens Park Rangers secured promotion from the Championship (second division) by beating Watford 2-0 away on Saturday, though they still have an anxious wait for an FA hearing that could result in them being docked points.

Later on Saturday second-placed Chelsea play Tottenham Hotspur (1630GMT) knowing they must win to have any realistic chance of catching leaders Manchester United, who visit Arsenal on Sunday (1300GMT).

With four games remaining United have 73 points, Chelsea 67 and Arsenal 64 with fourth-placed Manchester City in the final Champions League qualifying spot on 59 with a game in hand. Spurs are fifth on 55.

NEW OWNERS

When Blackburn's new Indian owners Venky's decided to sack manager Sam Allardyce in November the club were 13th in the standings with a respectable 21 points from 17 games.

They installed rookie boss Steve Kean and in their next 17 they garnered only another 14 and went into Saturday's game without a win since January and a point above the drop zone.

However, the players set about their work with unexpected confidence and they deserved the lead brought about when Michel Salgado squared for Olsson to bang in a vital goal.

Blackburn could, and should, have had more with their profligacy in front of goal leading to a nervous finale but they held out for a priceless victory.

 

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