MANCHESTER UNITED 4 – 2 BLACKPOOL
Park Ji-Sung (21)
Evatt (OG) (74)
Blackpool’s fairytale season in the Premier League has ended with relegation following Manchester United’s 4-2 victory against Ian Holloway’s team at Old Trafford.
Despite taking the lead early in the second-half through Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Blackpool’s hopes of a final-day escape were snuffed out by a late onslaught by United, who preserved their unbeaten home record this season in emphatic fashion.
Anderson’s equaliser set Blackpool in the slippery slope, but Ian Evatt’s own goal and Michael Owen’s late strike confirmed the Lancashire club’s relegation to the Championship exactly a year to the day since their promotion via the play-offs.
Blackpool went into the game knowing a victory might not even save them from relegation, yet conversely, there was also the prospect of Holloway’s team’s surviving with a defeat.
Regardless of the mathematics, however, midfielder Keith Southern spurned a golden chance to give Blackpool a dream start after just 17 seconds.
Southern was teed up by Charlie Adam’s pass into the penalty area, but with the goal gaping in front of him, he inexplicably sent his right-foot shot wide from ten yards.
It threatened to prove a costly miss for the Seasiders as United went close with Rafael and Dimitar Berbatov both testing Blackpool keeper Matt Gilks.
And when Ji-Sung Park put the champions ahead on 21 minutes, Blackpool’s hopes appeared to be dwindling rapidly due to United’s unbeaten home record this season.
Park was given an easy task to score, with defender Ian Evatt stumbling at the worst possible moment as he tried to clear Berbatov’s pass. Park simply collected the loose ball and beat Gilks from six yards.
Adam attempted to haul Blackpool into it with an audacious fifty-yard strike which flew narrowly over the bar, but the Scotland midfielder did make a crucial intervention by equalising with a stunning 40th minute free-kick.
Nemanja Vidic’s foul on DJ Campbell prompted referee Mike Dean to award a free-kick and Adam beat Edwin van der Sar with a left-foot strike into the bottom corner.
The escape was now on and Blackpool looked set to drag themselves to safety when Gary Taylor-Fletcher put Holloway’s team ahead on 57 minutes.
Midfielder David Vaughan’s cross to Taylor-Fletcher saw the striker escape Jonny Evans at the near post before he deftly beat Van der Sar with a right-foot shot into the far corner.
United, unbeaten at home since Apr 2010, were faced with their proud record being wiped out, but they were quickly level when Anderson converted Park’s pass on 62 minutes to make it 2-2.
Confidence now drained from Blackpool and the nightmare scenario came to fruition on 74 minutes when Evatt’s own goal from Chris Smallinmg’s cross put them behind.
Goals elsewhere meant Blackpool were now in the bottom three and facing the drop and their hopes of survival as good as evaporated when substitute Michael Owen scored to make it 4-2 on 81 minutes.
Blackpool had no way back from that and, despite their stunning performances this season, relegation was confirmed with Dean’s final whistle.