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EPL relegation fight takes center stage

Wigan Athletic's Conor Sammon left, and Newcastle United's Mike Williamson contest a header during their English Premier League soccer match at the DW Stadium, Wigan, England, Saturday April 28, 2012. Wigan Athletic's Conor Sammon left, and Newcastle United's Mike Williamson contest a header during their English Premier League soccer match at the DW Stadium, Wigan, England, Saturday April 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Clint Hughes)
April 28, 2012
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LONDON—Wigan demolished Newcastle 4-0 Saturday for another remarkable win in its attempt to avoid relegation from the Premier League and severely dent its opponent's chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

With the fight for the title not resuming until leader Manchester United makes the short trip to second-place Manchester City on Monday, much of Saturday's play centered on the teams fighting to stay in the lucrative Premier League.

Newcastle had won six straight to move into fourth place but Wigan, which looked certain to be relegated just over a month ago, followed recent wins over Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal with first-half goals from Victor Moses (2), Shaun Maloney and Franco Di Santo.

Wigan was still last in the standings on March 17 after just one win in 14 Premier League matches but kept up its passing, attacking game to become one of the division's better teams.

Wigan is three points ahead of the three-team relegation zone. Bolton remained in 18th place despite rallying for a 2-2 draw at Sunderland through Kevin Davies' second goal of the game, while Aston Villa is still in danger after a 0-0 draw at mid-table West Bromwich Albion.

At the other end of the table, Robin van Persie scored his 28th league goal of the season to earn third-place Arsenal a 1-1 draw at Stoke.

Nikica Jelavic scored twice as Everton scored four for the third straight league game to beat Fulham 4-0, while Liverpool was at Norwich in the late game. Last-place Wolverhampton Wanderers, which has already been demoted, fought back from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 at Swansea.

Queens Park Rangers plays Sunday at Chelsea. Blackburn, the other side in the relegation zone, is at Tottenham also on Sunday.

Southampton was promoted Saturday after a 4-0 win over Coventry sealed its return to England's topflight after a seven-year absence.

The Saints scored twice in each half to clinch a second straight promotion as runner-up to Reading in the second-tier League Championship.

"We've put a lot of hard work in and a lot of hours and we've achieved something special this season," Southampton manager Nigel Adkins said. "Everyone works so hard at this football club and it's great to see the smiles and delight on the supporters' faces."

West Ham finished third despite a 2-1 win over Hull and will enter the playoffs with Blackpool, Birmingham and Cardiff.

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BERLIN (AP) -- Bundesliga top scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored twice Saturday to help Schalke secure automatic qualification for next season's Champions League with a 4-0 win over Hertha Berlin.

Huntelaar scored in the 32nd minute before taking his season tally to 27 in the 88th. Lewis Holtby and Raul Gonzalez -- playing in his last game at home for Schalke -- also scored.

Freiburg's 4-1 win over Cologne saved Hertha from relegation for now. Hertha is two points behind Cologne in the relegation playoff place heading to the final weekend's games.

Augsburg and Hamburger SV are safe after 0-0 draws at Borussia Moenchengladbach and at home against Mainz respectively.

Borussia Dortmund -- which clinched the title last weekend -- celebrated with a 5-2 win at already-relegated Kaiserslautern, extending its record unbeaten run to 27 games.

Second-place Bayern Munich defeated Stuttgart 2-0, allowing Bayer Leverkusen to move into fifth with a 1-0 win over Hannover.

Wolfsburg boosted its Europa League hopes with a 3-1 win over Werder Bremen, and Nuremberg won 3-2 at Hoffenheim.

Huntelaar opened the scoring with a crisp shot through Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft's legs, before Holtby finally sealed Schalke's win in the 71st minute.

Raul signed off in front of the home fans with a close-range finish after a Schalke corner in the 84th, and then headed on a free kick for his former Real Madrid teammate Huntelaar to score his second. It was Huntelaar's 46th goal in all competitions this season.

Cologne, which has conceded 71 goals this season, hosts Champions League finalist Bayern next weekend, while Hertha welcomes Hoffenheim.

Dortmund would set a Bundesliga record haul of 81 points with a win against Freiburg at home next Saturday, before it turns attention to the German Cup final against Bayern on May 12.

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes made eight changes to the side that lined up for Wednesday's Champions League semifinal, with Holger Badstuber, Luiz Gustavo and Mario Gomez the only survivors from the team that overcame Real Madrid on penalties.

Georg Niedermeier and Shinji Okazaki both hit the crossbar for Stuttgart before Thomas Mueller crossed for Mario Gomez to claim his 26th goal of the season in the 32nd.

Mueller completed the scoring in injury time, when he was one of a number of players queuing to score after a counterattack.

Former Germany captain Michael Ballack was thanked for his service to Leverkusen but had to be happy with a place on the bench. He was on the pitch to see Stefan Kiessling score the all-important goal in the 75th.

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GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) -- Motherwell beat St. Johnstone 5-1 in the Scottish Premier League on Saturday to clinch a place in European competition for next season and boost its chances of reaching the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.

Michael Higdon and Nicky Law put Motherwell in control with two goals in three first-half minutes before Jamie Murphy scored the best goal with a 52nd-minute volley. St. Johnstone replied with a penalty but substitute Henrik Ojamaa made two late goals to help Motherwell go five points ahead in third place.

Champion Celtic hosts second-place Rangers on Sunday.

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