Marc-Antoine Fortuné

Burnley promoted to Premier League with win over Wigan

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For the second time since 1976, Burnley will play top-flight soccer in England beginning next season.

The Clarets sealed promotion today with a 2-0 victory over Wigan that took Burnley to 86 points, providing an insurmountable eight point lead over third place Derby County with just two matches to go.

Burnley got on the table in the 22nd minute when Ashley Barnes scored a sublime goal seemingly out of nothing when Kieran Trippier found Danny Ings. The 21-year-old forward then fed a pass into the overlapping path of Dean Marney, who delivered a first-time cross that Barnes smashed into the roof of the net.

Twenty minutes and a Wigan header off the bar by Marc-Antoine Fortune later, Burnley got their second goal from a Michael Kightly free-kick.  The Stoke loanee struck a fierce free-kick from a tight angle that took a slight skim off of Stephen Crainey’s head but was always destined for the back of the net.

Both sides spurned chances in the second half but Burnley held on and now they join Leicester City in next season’s Premier League. The third and final side will be determined during the May 24th Championship Play-Off final.

Championship side Wigan knock Cardiff out of the FA Cup

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Last year’s FA Cup winners will continue their charge to this year’s final, with Championship side Wigan beating Premier League side Cardiff to advance to the quarterfinals.

The visitors took a surprise lead early in the first half, when Jordi Gómez got away from the Cardiff defense to slide the ball across the face of goal. Chris McCann got on the end of it, catching the ball on the volley and sidefooting past David Marshall into the back of the net. It seemed the cup-holders were on course to make it through to the next round, particularly when they closed rank and defended.

But Wigan’s lead lasted less than ten minutes. It looked as though the Latics defense would manage to hold out, shutting down an attempt from Wilfried Zaha. But they couldn’t clear their lines, allowing Fraizer Campbell to pounce. Cardiff’s cup-hero threaded his shot through the Wigan bodies, past Ali Al-Habsi and into the back of the net.

Wigan weren’t prepared to let go of the Cup just yet, however. Another cup-hero stepped up in the form of Ben Watson, latching on to a ball from Marc-Antoine Fortune and blasting it into the back of the net.

As if that wasn’t enough action in the first half, the Bluebirds very nearly tied it up once more. Defender Cala, in his first appearance for Cardiff, managed to hit the post just before the break. Al-Habsi rescued the danger and Wigan went into the second half leading 2-1.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the second half failed to live up to the excitement of the first. Wigan held fast while Cardiff’s urgency increased, the hosts doing whatever they could to try and get into a good scoring position. Perhaps the biggest bit of excitement was when Al-Habsi had to stop a shot from Zaha in the 80th minute, but the offside flag was up anyway. In injury time, Zaha almost got ahold of a flick from Cala, but again Al-Habsi was there to save.

Cardiff: Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Cala, Taylor, Medel (Cowie 46), Eikrem (Kim 78), Daehli, Berget (Noone 61), Zaha, Campbell

Goals: Campbell 27′

Wigan: Al-Habsi, Perch, Boyce, Ramis, Beausejour, Watson (McEachran 58), McManaman (McClean 67), McCann, Espinoza, Gomez (Crainey 78), Fortune

Goals: McCann 18′, Watson 40′

Premier League Preview: West Bromwich Albion

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Each day from now until the beginning of the Premier League season, we will preview two teams from England’s top flight. You can view them all here at PST Preview central. Don’t forget, the 2013-14 PL season begins on August 17th, and for the first-time ever you can watch every game live on NBC Sports.

By final ranking, last season was a huge success for West Bromwich Albion, the club’s eighth place finish their best in 22 years. Look at the points, column, however, and you see a Baggie team that was closer to relegation than Europe. Having failed to secure the return of last year’s leading scorer, the West Midlands club looks unlikely to replicate last year’s success, but for a team that’s faced relegation three times since 2003, merely staying up is still considered a successful season.

Transfers In: F Nicolas Anelka (Juventus), D Diego Lugano (Paris Saint-Germain)

Transfer Out:  M Scott Allan (Birmingham City), F Marc-Antoine Fortuné (Wigan Athletic), D Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest), F Romelu Lukaku (loan expired, Chelsea), M Romaine Sawyers (Walsall), W Jerome Thomas (Crystal Palace)

source: Getty ImagesKey Player: It probably doesn’t speak well of the Baggies’ summer that they’re left relying on Nicolas Anelka (pictured) to fill the shoes of the departed Romelu Lukaku, but with seven goals in preseason, perhaps the 34-year-old’s tank isn’t empty. In the few minutes he got at Juventus after his January loan from Shanghai Shenhua, Anelka seemed to have left his game in Asia. He only ended up appearing three times for Antonio Conte. Now, back in England have a year-and-a-half sojourn, Anelka’s hinting he may have something to give to his 11th club.

He certainly won’t be able to replicate Lukaku’s production, though, be it replacing the Belgian international’s goals (17) or helping get more out of Shane Long and James Morrison. Better for West Brom to hope the addition of Diego Lugano plus improved play from others at the back reduces their 57 goals allowed.

Manager: After nearly a decade as one of the most-respected assistants in England, Clarks finally got his shot at The Hawthorns, replacing Roy Hodgson after his predecessor took the England national team job. With the Baggies having finished 11th and 10th in Hodgson’s year-and-a-half, some expected West Brom to regress. Instead, the former St. Mirren and Chelsea defender forged the league’s eight-best attack, restoring some of the danger the team showed when they were promoted under Roberto Di Matteo.

Outlook: West Brom finished last season atop a relatively tight cluster of teams from eight to 18th. Between Lukaku’s loss, the lack of improvements elsewhere, and the moves their competition’s made, West Brom seem set for a significant step back. If things go wrong, they could battle relegation; if, however, Clarke can find replicate the magic he found with Lukaku, the Baggies could against finish in the league’s top half.

MORE: Read all the Premier League previews for each team here

Premier League snapshots: Wigan’s gifts, Liverpool’s rout, Fulham’s slide

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There were six Saturday games in the Premier League, but given the point of the season we’re at, only a couple carried any serious implications.

Here are the quick-hit recaps of today’s matches:

Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United

One liner: A late goal Andy Carroll goal allows the final score to carry the illusion of a close match.

More:

Yaya Touré’s 83rd minute goal:

Up until then, City had controlled a one-goal game, leaving West Ham one moment of against-the-run-of-play pragmatism from getting a result at Eastlands. After the goal, the game was over.

Implications: Neither team has much to play for, so aside from bragging rights, this game meant nothing. City remains focused on next month’s FA Cup final against Wigan.

Everton 1-0 Fulham

One liner: Fulham have been terrible.

More: Obviously, Steven Pienaar’s half-volley was all Everton needed, but this match may as well have ended in the 16th minute. While the Toffees pressed for a second, it was energy wasted. Fulham never put a shot on Tim Howard.

The Cottagers have one point in their last four games, matching their goal total over the same haul.

Implications: Everton maintains their distance on seventh-place Liverpool while Fulham, still 11th in the league, start to amass doubts.

Southampton 0-3 West Bromwich Albion

One liner: The Mauricio Pochettino bounce: Dead.

More: The game had as many red cards as goals, with Gaston Ramirez, Marc-Antoine Fortuné, and Daniel Fox all sent off. Ramirez was sent off in the 70th minute after an elbow to Shane Long, to which Fortuné responded by slapping Ramirez. Fox was sent off for a tackle on Steven Reid.

By that point, West Brom had all their goals. Fortuné opened the scoring in the sixth minute then set up Romelu Lukaku in the 67th. Lukaku did the providing for Long in the 77th.

Stoke City 1-0 Norwich City

One liner: Surprise, there was a goal (and it was Charlie Adam)!

More: Both these teams, already among the worst attacks in England, started with five midfielders. Granted, with Jon Walters and Kei Kamara, both teams could easily change, but neither alignment exactly screamed, “We’re going for this one!”

Just after halftime, Charlie Adam met  a Peter Crouch knockdown, beat Mark Bunn, and converted one of the matches three shots on goal (all from Stoke City).

Implications: Two weeks ago, this looked like it would have relegation implications, and while Norwich only has 38 points (Stoke has 40), it’s unlikely either team is in real danger. So, no implications other than the match having mercifully expired.

Wigan 2-2 Tottenham

One liner: Wigan run out of ways to give Spurs goals, can’t give away the last point.

More: We covered it here.

Implications: For Wigan, this is another match like the one two weeks ago at Manchester City – a chance at full points that slipped through their finders. For Spurs, you could say the same. They need Chelsea or Arsenal to start stumbling (something that will happen if Spurs win at Stamford Bridge on May 8).

Newcastle 0-6 Liverpool

One liner: Skeleton in hooded robe extends finger toward Alan Pardew.

More: Relive the onslaught.

Implications: Liverpool’s playing for nothing, but it’s encouraging to see them perform so well without Luis Suárez. For Newcastle, they still can’t be certain they’re clear of a relegation fight. And they can’t be certain their manager will be around to see them though it.