Black­burn make un­wanted his­tory, New­cas­tle cham­pi­ons

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LON­DON: Black­burn Rovers be­came the first Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons to drop into the third tier of English foot­ball on Sun­day whilst New­cas­tle claimed the Cham­pi­onship ti­tle on a nerver­ack­ing fi­nal day.

Wins for an­other his­toric club, two-time Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Not­ting­ham For­est — 3-0 over Ip­swich — and Chi­ne­se­owned Birm­ing­ham City, who beat Bris­tol City 1-0, con­demned Rovers.

Black­burn were Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons in 1995, but their for­tunes have dived un­der the own­er­ship of the In­dian poul­try firm Venky’s.

Rafael Ben­itez and his New­cas­tle side did what they had to do in beat­ing Barns­ley 3-0 but it took a howler from Brighton goal­keeper David Stock­dale to en­sure they re­turned to the Pre­mier League as cham­pi­ons.

Brighton, who started the day a point ahead of New­cas­tle, looked to be head­ing to a 1-0 win over As­ton Villa un­til Stock­dale some­how failed to prevent Jack Gre­al­ish’s long-range ef­fort go­ing into the net and the Seag­ulls were held 1-1.

“The thing to be proud of is all the hard work done dur­ing the sea­son has earned its re­ward to­day,” said Ben­itez, whose name was chanted in rau­cous fash­ion by the home fans.

Black­burn de­parted with a 3-1 win over Brent­ford but that was lit­tle con­so­la­tion as they con­tem­plate League One and third-tier foot­ball for the first time since 1980.

“There’s a bit of talk­ing to be had,” Rovers man­ager Tony Mow­bray told Sky Sports.

“Ide­ally we’ll start this jour­ney with it be­ing as low as this club gets and move forward.”

Things had looked rosy for Rovers early on as they stormed into a 2-0 lead at Brent­ford, Scot­tish in­ter­na­tional mid­fielder Char­lie Mul­grew’s goal, a de­light­ful free­kick, the pick of the two.

How­ever, by the time Craig Con­way con­verted a late penalty to make it 3-1 the game was up for Rovers be­cause For­est and Birm­ing­ham were win­ning.

For­est’s hero was Con­golese striker Britt As­som­ba­longa who

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