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Page last updated at 19:59 GMT, Sunday, 22 May 2011 20:59 UK

Roberto Martinez hails Wigan's Premier League survival

Roberto Martinez
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is borne aloft by his jubilant players

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was full of praise for his players after a 1-0 victory at Stoke City secured Premier League survival for a seventh season.

The Latics started the afternoon second from bottom but Hugo Rodallega's winner secured a 16th-place finish.

"It's been a real rollercoaster of emotions, and now we can savour the good moments of football that we have played this campaign," said Martinez.

"We've beaten many challenges and the players deserve to enjoy that feeling."

Wigan spent much of the season in the bottom three and looked doomed to relegation as recently as last weekend, when they went into the half-time break against West Ham trailing 2-0 at home.

But the Latics fought back to win that game 3-2 and their win at the Britannia Stadium capped an impressive end to the season during which they lost only two of their final nine games.

Martinez proud of Wigan achievement

"It's been coming - the level of performances has been very good in the last third of the season," added Martinez.

"I kept saying that but it's something that it's difficult to get the credit for when you're in the bottom three time after time.

"We knew we had to win our last two games of the season, we knew we had to get six points, but then we went 2-0 down against West Ham... the squad has been tested time after time.

"We are one of the youngest squads in the Premier League and to respond in that manner makes you extremely proud.

"We had to get back-to-back wins, something that we hadn't done all season, and we did that.

"We came to Stoke and we beat them and kept a clean sheet, which no other team has done in 2011. Now it's time to enjoy the feeling."

Martinez also had a word of sympathy for Blackpool and Birmingham, who were relegated.

"It's been an amazing season in the Premier League, the most competitive, and it just shows you why it's the best league in the world," added the Spaniard.

"I think our thoughts need to go to the teams that got relegated, because they all have a strong case to say how good they've been during the season.

Pulis disappointed by defeat

"Somebody has to go down, obviously, but there were no bad teams.

"We can look back at the season and be very proud of some of the things we've achieved internally.

"It's the fewest number of defeats Wigan Athletic have had in a Premier League season, and we finished 16th, which is an amazing position."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis, who saw his side dominate the opening period before tumbling to their third successive defeat in all competitions, suggested that Wigan were fortunate to claim the points.

"We took the first half and it was really disappointing that we didn't come in winning the game," said Pulis, who guided Stoke to last weekend's FA Cup final only to see them beaten 1-0 by Manchester City.

"They rode their luck a little bit in certain areas and there were some generous decisions that also went their way - but I've got to be careful not to incur the wrath of the FA.

"In the first 20 minutes of the second half we were poor. We started as if the game had already been won and it was all over.

"Wigan were fighting for their lives and although we got some balls in the box we never looked like scoring in the second half."

It has nonetheless been a memorable season for Stoke, who finish the campaign in 13th place after reaching the Cup final for the first time in their 148-year history.

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see also
Stoke 0-1 Wigan
22 May 11 |  Premier League
Premier League D-Day as it happened
22 May 11 |  Football
Sunday's Premier League photos
22 May 11 |  Football

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