Hull City were officially relegated from the English Premier League on Monday as hosts Wigan Athletic held them to a 2-2 draw with an injury time equaliser at the DW Stadium.
Latics defender Steve Gohouri, being watched by his Côte d'Ivoire manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, scored the crucial goal that confirmed the Tigers' relegation to the Championship.
"That is the nature of this harsh league," Hull manager Iain Dowie said. "I'm very proud of the display, I thought it was absolutely outstanding and that we deserved more than we got. We haven't won but we might well have done. We have scored two goals away from home for the second time since I have been here and unfortunately we have only got one point from it, which is the galling side."
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez said: "It is one of those performances which leaves you with mixed feelings because we knew that we had to take control of the game and break Hull down. They were well-organised and working hard and I thought for spells, we showed very good moments.
"But then what we don't lack is that character and desire to carry on doing the right things until the end. I thought the second goal was the reward the players deserved," he added.
Hull went into the clash knowing that only a first away win of the season would keep them mathematically in the top flight. But survival was practically impossible given their huge goal difference deficit compared to West Ham, the only team they could have drawn level with on points.
They join Burnley and Portsmouth in the Championship next year, the Clarets and Pompey having already been relegated. Hull's first foray into English football's top flight lasted two seasons.
Wigan's 19-year-old striker Victor Moses scored his first goal for the club with a 30th-minute shot. Hull debutant Will Atkinson equalised in the 42nd minute with a header and striker Mark Cullen, making only his third appearance, nodded them ahead in the 64th minute with his first senior goal, but Gohouri levelled three minutes into injury time with a spectacular overhead kick.
With Wigan safe and Hull de facto already down, both clubs took the opportunity to try out some fresh faces. Latics boss Roberto Martinez made four changes, with Moses among those drafted in.
Meanwhile Hull's "temporary football management consultant" Iain Dowie brought in three youngsters, including Atkinson and Cullen, along with Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, who had recovered from a head injury.
Wigan had the better of the opening exchanges, with Jordi Gomez shooting wide, Vennegoor of Hesselink heading off target and Atkinson having a shot parried by Tigers goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
The hosts' pressure paid off when Moses broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark. Played in by Mohamed Diame on the left, he cut inside two defenders before curling a shot across goalkeeper Matt Duke into the bottom corner of the goal. Making his 13th appearance and second start for Wigan, it was the Nigerian-born England U-19 international's first goal for the Latics since signing from Crystal Palace in February.
Hull were in determined mood though and earned a deserved but controversial equaliser minutes before half-time. Kevin Kilbane clipped the ball in towards Atkinson, who headed it past Stojkovic, the Serbia stopper on loan from Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon. The goal appeared to have been disallowed due to a raised flag for offside, but referee Phil Dowd overruled his assistant to award the goal, much to the fury of the Latics players.
Hull had a penalty appeal turned down shortly after the break. Andy Dawson launched a free kick forward but Dowd did not think Wigan's Maynor Figueroa had handled the ball. A minute later, Duke pulled off a save following a curling effort from Gomez. Hugo Rodallega missed two chances for the hosts and Gomez missed another on the volley as Wigan pressed forward.
Gohouri was booked a minute before Hull's second goal for a cynical foul on Bernard Mendy. Cullen's header came from a George Boateng cross from the right wing, which the youngster nodded in in from six yards out. Wigan captain Mario Melchiot, making his 100th Latics appearance, was booked for a late challenge on Kilbane in the 77th minute. But the hosts had the last laugh with Gohouri's impressive goal. Hull broke but Cullen lost the ball, which was pumped back towards the Tigers' goal.
Substitute Paul Scharner - who had the word "thanks" sprayed into his hair in blue and white - knocked the ball back across goal for Gohouri to send Hull down with a superb finish.