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Man Utd lift record 19th league title

London, May 22 (agencies)
Published on 23 May. 2011 12:04 AM IST
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Blackpool suffered final day heartbreak as they lost a thriller to seal their relegation from the Premier League. Park Ji-sung put Manchester United ahead early on with a chip over Matt Gilks before Charlie Adam's free-kick in off the post restored parity.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher side-footed Blackpool 2-1 ahead before Anderson curled in a beautiful equaliser. Ian Evatt then put through his own net from Chris Smalling's cross and Michael Owen's fourth sealed Blackpool's fate.
With so much riding on the game, it was vital that Blackpool imposed themselves on proceedings as early as possible, and they were handed a chance within the first minute. DJ Campbell dispossessed Paul Scholes and set up Adam to fire in a cross from the left, but Keith Southern skewed his shot well wide of the goal.
Adam then set up a similar chance for Taylor-Fletcher but the Blackpool player failed to connect with the cross. But the visitors' failure to make the most of their early chances was hammered home on 21 minutes when Dimitar Berbatov flicked the ball past Alex Baptiste into the path of Park, and a moment's hesitation by defender Evatt let in the Korean to lob the ball over Seasiders keeper Gilks.
Park and Berbatov were two of the liveliest players on the pitch, and it was no surprise when they involved in the game's next moment of high drama. A defensive mix-up allowed Berbatov a great scoring opportunity from close range, but the Bulgarian took too long over the chance, allowing Gilks to block the effort with his legs. The ball failed to clear the area and fell to Park, who was brought down by Adam, and the well-positioned referee Mike Dean waved away United's strong penalty claims.
At the time this looked like it could prove a significant moment in the game, and this became true when five minutes before the break, Blackpool levelled. Nemanja Vidic brought down Taylor-Fletcher just outside the box, in a position Adam would probably have chosen as his ideal free-kick taking location.
And the former Rangers player took full advantage as he curled a low shot into the net, off the foot of Edwin van der Sar's left-hand post, becoming the first visiting player to score a first-half goal in a league game at Old Trafford for over a year and, more importantly, breathing life into his team's survival chances.
The start of the second half was almost a repeat of the first, with Blackpool having another great chance.
Vidic brought down Campbell in a similar position to the first-half free-kick, and Adam produced a thunderous shot towards the top corner, only for van der Sar to produce a nonchalant one-handed save.
The complicated maths of the relegation situation meant that the best Blackpool could do was go for the win and hope it was enough - and on 57 minutes, they went ahead.
Jason Puncheon played the ball to Vaughan, and his cross from the right was side-footed home by former roofer Taylor-Fletcher.
The prospect of losing their season-long unbeaten home record on the final day of the season seemed to rouse United, however, and it was not long before they were level.
Park and Anderson played a one-two on the edge of the box with Anderson producing a perfectly judged first-time left-foot curler into the bottom corner.
United then began to show their ruthless side, with Blackpool resorting to increasingly desperate defensive measures, so it was cruel on the Seasiders when they went behind in the most unfortunate of circumstances.
Owen was in a threatening position as Chris Smalling fired in his cross from the right, so Evatt did his best to block the ball but only managed to put it into his own net.
Blackpool's plight grew worse as results around the country started to turn against them, and then United turned the screw as Anderson split the defence with a pass which found Owen, who applied a clinical finish. Despite their best efforts, there was no way back for the Seasiders from this blow, and a hugely memorable season ended in defeat and relegation - but with their heads held high.

    Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool
    Bolton 0-2 Man City
    Everton 1-0 Chelsea
    Fulham 2-2 Arsenal
    Man Utd 4-2 *Blackpool
    Newcastle 3-3 West Brom
    Stoke 0-1 Wigan
    Tottenham 2-1 *Birmingham
    *West Ham 0-3 Sunderland
    Wolves 2-3 Blackburn

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