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5 greatest relegation escapes of recent years in Europe

Last minute goals, dramatic league changes; 5 times when teams survived the drop just when everything seemed lost.

Leicester City v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League : News Photo
Leicester City avoided relegation in 2015 with a remarkable run

The European leagues are winding down and with the Champions nearly crowned in the major leagues, the attention turns to the fight to avoid relegation. It’s especially close in the Premier League and the Bundesliga.

In Germany, only four points separate 12th placed Bayer Leverkusen from 16th placed Hamburg with two games to go, while in England, Middlesbrough’s relegation was confirmed this week and now Swansea City and Hull City are separated by just one point in the relegation battle.

Swansea can assure safety this week with a win and a loss for Hull, but it is more likely that the relegation fight will drag on to the last day of the season. Both sides can take heart from Leicester City's remarkable escape in 2015 and Sunderland's multiple nail-biting campaigns in recent years. There is even the possibility of a first ever 39th game relegation playoff in the Premier League should Hull and  Swansea finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored.

While many big clubs like VfB Stuttgart, Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruna and Newcastle United have tasted the bitter pill of relegation, this article looks at those miraculous escapes from relegation in top European leagues from the 2000s.

#5 Wigan Atheltic – Premier League, 2006/07

People tend to associate the 2006-07 relegation battle solely to West Ham United’s stunning resurgence. But Wigan Athletic fans have equal right in claiming that they made the last day of the season memorable.

The final round of matches saw West Ham occupying the final relegation spot behind Sheffield United on goal difference. Paul Jewell’s struggling Wigan Atheltic were three points behind the duo with 35. It would be Sheffield United taking on Wigan at home on the final match day, with a point ensuring survival for Sheffield.

West Ham meanwhile needed a positive result at Champions Manchester United. The Hammers had collected 18 points from their last 10 matches and proceeded to add three more when a Carlos Tevez goal beat a second string United side. Sheffield United, meanwhile, had gone behind at their own home before drawing level in the 38th minute.

Former Sheffield United player David Unsworth silenced his former employers with a penalty in first-half injury time to give Wigan the lead again. The second half saw Wigan go down to ten men, but hold on to get the victory. The scoreline meant that Wigan matched Sheffield United on 38 points and had avoided relegation due to a goal difference of -22 compared to Sheffield United’s -23.

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