Wolves 2-3 Blackburn
Stephen Hunt's superb late strike, coupled with a Spurs win over Birmingham, ensured Wolves avoided relegation from the Premier League as both they and Blackburn survived on an afternoon of high drama at Molineux.
Hunt curled home from 18 yards in the closing stages, a goal that in the end proved the difference between relegation to the Championship and extending Wolves' stay in the top flight.
Blackburn, who themselves went into the game at risk of the drop, sealed their place in next season's Premier League thanks largely to a fabulous first-half performance, as they swept into a 3-0 lead courtesy of goals from Jason Roberts, Brett Emerton and Junior Hoilett.
Wolves hit back in the second half with goals from Jamie O'Hara and Hunt, before the full-time whistle sparked jubilation around Molineux.
At various stages in the second half Wolves were in and out of the bottom three, but even after O'Hara pulled one back from a clever free-kick they were still going down, needing to score to move above Birmingham on goal difference as Blues were drawing 1-1 at White Hart Lane.
With the home fans chanting "We only need one goal", Hunt provided the salvation the capacity Molineux crowd were so desperate for, collecting the ball on the right-hand side of the penalty area and wonderfully arcing the ball into the corner beyond Paul Robinson's despairing dive in the 87th minute.
When Spurs scored late in stoppage time against Birmingham to earn victory, it secured Wolves' status - and with the game in injury time both sets of supporters were singing songs of survival in the West Midlands sunshine.
It was a quite remarkable afternoon that lurched from joy to despair and back again several times over, as both teams did enough to stay up and managers Mick McCarthy and Steve Kean were mobbed by their playing and coaching staff on the final whistle.
Their celebrations were eventually shared, yet how differently they went about retaining their Premier League status.
Blackburn's first-half performance, in the circumstances, was quite remarkable. They played with an attacking fluency missing from large swathes of their season, with strikers Roberts and Hoilett proving unplayable for the Wolves defence.
Time after time the visitors soaked up pressure from the hosts, won the ball back and then hit them on the break, with Steven Nzonzi and Jermaine Jones both providing superb support from midfield with some excellently timed runs.
If home advantage was supposed to help Wolves, it quickly proved more of a hindrance as Rovers settled quicker, their pacey forays forward in sharp contrast to the laboured way Wolves moved the ball around.
Every time Blackburn advanced into the Wolves box there was danger, as Roberts headed at Wayne Hennessey, Hoilett's near-post cross forced the keeper to gather low down and then Jones dragged an effort off target.
The nervous tension clearly felt by the Wolves players soon spread to the terraces, and after Chris Samba proved his worth to Kean's side with a superb block to deny Stephen Ward, the visitors got the goal their impressive start deserved.
It was a personal nightmare for Michael Mancienne, the defender dallying on the ball and giving away possession. When it was cut back to Michel Salgado inside the Wolves box, his driven effort was deflected in by the ever-alert Roberts.
Wolves continued to enjoy the greater share of the ball but they looked lifeless and impotent in the final third as Samba and the superb Phil Jones marshalled the Blackburn backline and, before too long, Rovers doubled their lead.
A long punt into the Wolves box was not dealt with by the home team - despite three players attempting to clear - and when it fell to Emerton 20 yards out, the Australian hit the sweetest of right-foot volleys to hammer the ball into the corner of Hennessey's net, giving the Welsh keeper no chance.
The worse it got on the pitch the worse it got elsewhere, and news of a Blackpool leveller at Manchester United had Wolves' fans in agony, a state not helped when Hoilett sneaked into their area down the left and had a shot deflected inches wide of the far post.
Wolves' efforts were summed up by Jody Craddock's wild attempt from the edge of the Blackburn box, but just as Mick McCarthy was preparing his half-time team-talk, Rovers extended their lead even further.
Another ball into the Wolves penalty area caused confusion, and when Hoilett picked it up he superbly drove past a defender before smashing the ball into the bottom corner, running away jubilantly to celebrate with the Blackburn fans who must have felt they were in dreamland.
At the break, as it stood, Wolves were heading for the Championship and McCarthy responded by sending on striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake for Mancienne, the substitute immediately helping set up a chance that Hunt headed wide before Ebanks-Blake drilled high and wide from 20 yards.
As news filtered through that Spurs were beating Birmingham 1-0 there were cheers from the Wolves fans, but they almost went 4-0 down when Hennessey saved brilliantly from Hoilett after a slip from Kevin Foley.
It was O'Hara who got them back on course, peeling away from the Blackburn defence to convert a clever free-kick routine 15 yards out, before it emerged that Birmingham had levelled at Spurs and Wigan, another in the relegation mix, were winning at Stoke.
The fans knew that if everything elsewhere stayed the same Wolves only needed one goal to survive and after a hush had descended on Molineux, they told the players the scenario, seemingly revitalising McCarthy's men.
It was left to Hunt to step up to the plate, his season-defining strike sending the black-and-gold stands into delirium and ensuring Wolves, as well as Blackburn, would be playing Premier League football in August.
Wolverhampton 2 - 3 Blackburn
- 13 Hennessey
- 03 Elokobi
- 06 Craddock Booked
- 11 Ward
- 21 Mancienne (Ebanks-Blake - 46' )
- 32 Foley
- 08 Henry Booked (Guedioura - 85' )
- 12 Hunt Booked
- 17 Jarvis
- 24 O'Hara
- 10 Fletcher (Berra - 90' )
- 01 Hahnemann
- 05 Stearman
- 16 Berra
- 20 Milijas
- 34 Guedioura
- 09 Ebanks-Blake
- 18 Vokes
- 01 Robinson
- 03 Olsson
- 04 Samba Booked
- 05 Givet
- 27 Salgado
- 28 Jones
- 02 Jones
- 07 Emerton
- 15 Nzonzi
- 23 Hoilett (Pedersen - 79' )
- 30 Roberts
- 13 Bunn
- 08 Dunn
- 12 Pedersen
- 17 Andrews
- 18 Santa Cruz
- 21 Mwaruwari
- 41 Diouf
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The match has reached full-time.87:47 +1:29 Booking
Booking Stephen Hunt receives a caution.89:41
Jamie O'Hara delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing.89:41 Substitution
Substitution Christophe Berra replaces Steven Fletcher.89:41
Gael Givet gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stephen Hunt.87:53
Foul by Stephen Hunt on Jermaine Jones, free kick awarded. Morten Gamst Pedersen has a direct shot on goal from the free kick, Stephen Ward gets a block in.86:02
The assist for the goal came from Steven Fletcher.86:02 Goal scored
Goal! - Stephen Hunt - Wolves 2 - 3 Blackburn Stephen Hunt grabs a goal from the edge of the area to the top left corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 2-3 Blackburn.85:30
Jason Roberts is caught offside. Free kick taken by Wayne Hennessey.84:38 Substitution
Substitution (Wolverhampton) makes a substitution, with Adlene Guedioura coming on for Karl Henry.84:08
Long distance shot from Stephen Hunt misses to the left of the net.80:41
Stephen Ward takes a shot. Blocked by Steven Nzonzi.78:43 Substitution
Substitution David Hoilett leaves the field to be replaced by Morten Gamst Pedersen.78:10
Corner taken right-footed by Jamie O'Hara.77:56
Inswinging corner taken by Jamie O'Hara from the right by-line.77:41
Corner taken by Matthew Jarvis from the left by-line.74:04
Inswinging corner taken by Jamie O'Hara from the left by-line.72:23
The assist for the goal came from Stephen Hunt.72:23 Goal scored
Goal! - Jamie O'Hara - Wolves 1 - 3 Blackburn Jamie O'Hara fires in a goal from the edge of the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 1-3 Blackburn.71:09
Unfair challenge on Stephen Hunt by Jermaine Jones results in a free kick. Stephen Hunt takes the direct free kick.
George Elokobi challenges David Hoilett unfairly and gives away a free kick. Paul Robinson takes the free kick.66:02
Brett Emerton takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Christopher Samba has a headed effort from close range and clears the crossbar.60:00
Effort from a long way out by Jamie O'Hara goes wide left of the net.57:57
Inswinging corner taken by Jamie O'Hara.57:14
Brett Emerton concedes a free kick for a foul on Karl Henry. Free kick taken by George Elokobi.56:11
Jason Roberts concedes a free kick for a foul on George Elokobi. Free kick taken by Wayne Hennessey.55:31
Jason Roberts takes a shot. Wayne Hennessey makes a save.53:33
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matthew Jarvis by Michel Salgado. The ball is sent over by Jamie O'Hara, Jody Craddock has a header from close in and clears the crossbar.47:33
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has shot on goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.45:51
The ball is delivered by Matthew Jarvis, Headed effort from deep inside the area by Stephen Hunt misses to the left of the goal.45:01
The second half has started.45:01 Substitution
Substitution (Wolverhampton) makes a substitution, with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake coming on for Michael Mancienne.45:00 +2:46
Direct free kick taken by Paul Robinson.45:00 +2:46 Booking
Booking The referee books Jody Craddock for unsporting behaviour.45:00 +2:42
Jody Craddock challenges Jason Roberts unfairly and gives away a free kick.45:00 +1:10 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.45:00 +0:47
Jason Roberts provided the assist for the goal.45:00 +0:47 Goal scored
Goal! - David Hoilett - Wolves 0 - 3 Blackburn A goal is scored by David Hoilett from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 0-3 Blackburn.45:00 +0:11
Effort on goal by Jody Craddock from just inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.44:10
Jamie O'Hara crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel, clearance by Brett Emerton.44:10 Booking
Booking Booking for Christopher Samba.43:49
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matthew Jarvis by Christopher Samba.42:30
The ball is sent over by Matthew Jarvis.40:11
Corner taken by Brett Emerton, Christopher Samba takes a shot. Jody Craddock gets a block in.39:57
David Hoilett takes a shot. Save by Wayne Hennessey.37:27 Goal scored
Goal! - Brett Emerton - Wolves 0 - 2 Blackburn A goal is scored by Brett Emerton from just outside the penalty area to the top right corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 0-2 Blackburn.36:44
Stephen Hunt gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steven Nzonzi. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.32:52
Free kick awarded for a foul by Stephen Hunt on Phil Jones. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.31:28
Foul by Phil Jones on Wayne Hennessey, free kick awarded. Wayne Hennessey takes the free kick.31:00
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Brett Emerton from the left by-line.28:59
The offside flag is raised against Stephen Ward. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.26:31
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Phil Jones by Jody Craddock. Direct free kick taken by Paul Robinson.26:14
Stephen Hunt takes a outswinging corner.25:40
Gael Givet takes a shot. Save by Wayne Hennessey.24:26
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jermaine Jones by Karl Henry. Phil Jones takes the direct free kick.23:28
Jody Craddock challenges Michel Salgado unfairly and gives away a free kick. Michel Salgado restarts play with the free kick.21:55
Assist by Michel Salgado.21:55 Goal scored
Goal! - Jason Roberts - Wolves 0 - 1 Blackburn Jason Roberts gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Wolverhampton 0-1 Blackburn.19:17
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Jamie O'Hara, Headed effort from inside the area by George Elokobi misses to the left of the target.17:35
Jermaine Jones has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.17:35 Booking
Booking Karl Henry receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.17:23
Karl Henry gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Hoilett.16:15
Jermaine Jones takes a shot. Comfortable save by Wayne Hennessey.15:52
George Elokobi challenges Jason Roberts unfairly and gives away a free kick. Michel Salgado takes the free kick.13:48
Stephen Ward takes a shot. Christopher Samba gets a block in.11:35
Outswinging corner taken by Matthew Jarvis.11:11
Stephen Hunt fouled by Jermaine Jones, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by George Elokobi.10:09
Free kick awarded for a foul by Karl Henry on Jermaine Jones. Brett Emerton crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, Wayne Hennessey makes a comfortable save.9:12
Steven Fletcher is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.7:21
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Hoilett by Michael Mancienne. Direct free kick taken by Paul Robinson.6:23
Stephen Ward takes a shot. Comfortable save by Paul Robinson.5:43
Jermaine Jones has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide left of the goal.4:21
Karl Henry fouled by Jermaine Jones, the ref awards a free kick. Jamie O'Hara takes the free kick.3:52
Michel Salgado takes a shot. Comfortable save by Wayne Hennessey.0:00
The game begins.
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