Newcastle and Boro relegated
Newcastle were relegated from the English Premier League this afternoon after losing 1-0 at Aston Villa. The worst fears of Alan Shearer, the Magpies' interim manager, looked to be coming true after a cruel deflection off Damien Duff gave Villa the lead six minutes before the break.
The goal completely changed the mood of the visiting fans who had been celebrating the fact that Manchester United had taken the lead against Newcastle's relegation rivals Hull City. As expected, Sir Alex Ferguson named a weakened United side for the trip to the KC Stadium, but nobody could complain about the goal that put the Red Devils ahead, young midfielder Darron Gibson unleashing a screamer from 35 yards on the half-hour mark.
It proved to be the winner, but with Newcastle unable to find an equaliser at Villa Park, it was the Tigers who stayed up by a point with Shearer's side having to contemplate the reality of life outside the top-flight. The misery was complete for the Toon Army in injury time with David Edgar sent off just seconds before the final whistle which confirmed their fate.
Second-bottom Middlesbrough will join the Magpies and already-relegated West Bromwich Albion in the Championship next year after they were defeated 2-1 at West Ham United. The hosts went ahead after 33 minutes when Carlton Cole sidefooted past Brad Jones and although Gary O'Neill hit an equaliser shortly after the break, the Hammers won it eight minutes later through Junior Stanislas.
Sunderland were the only other side in any danger of getting relegated at the start of play and had other results to thank for their survival after they were beaten 3-2 by Chelsea at the Stadium of Light in Guus Hiddink's last game in charge of the Blues. Nicolas Anelka took the season's Golden Boot award in style with a wonder-strike two minutes into the second half before Kieran Richardson took advantage of Petr Cech's fumble to level.
Further up the table, Fulham claimed the final UEFA Europa League spot despite losing 2-0 to Everton at Craven Cottage. Leon Osman hit both goals for the Toffees, but Roy Hodgson's team retained seventh spot as Tottenham Hotspur were defeated 3-1 by Liverpool.
The Reds took the lead in the first-half thanks to Fernando Torres' header and Alan Hutton's own goal made it two after the break. Robbie Keane pulled one back against his former employers with a quarter of an hour to go, but Yossi Benayoun netted Liverpool's third nine minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Arsenal were in a rampant mood at the Emirates Stadium, beating Stoke City in the first half on the way to a 4-1 victory. The Gunners opened the scoring on ten minutes, striker James Beattie's instincts appearing to get the better of him as he slotted the ball into his own net from Cesc Fabregas' cross.
The hosts then made it 2-0 on the quarter hour when Robin van Persie was brought down by Ryan Shawcross and converted the resulting spot-kick, and Abou Diaby headed a third two minutes later. Ricardo Fuller pulled back a penalty at the other end, but van Persie rattled in another for the hosts four minutes before the interval having capitalised on a mistake by Rory Delap.
Manchester City triumphed 1-0 over Bolton Wanderers after Felipe Caicedo's close-range finish on nine minutes, and Wigan Athletic beat Portsmouth 1-0, Hugo Rodallega netting. In the final day's other fixture, Blackburn versus West Bromwich Albion finished 0-0 at Ewood Park with Jason Roberts sent off for the hosts mid-way through the second half.