A cruel own goal by Damien Duff condemned Newcastle United to relegation from the Premier League following a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Sunday. Newcastle followed North-East rivals Middlesbrough through the trap door after Boro's 2-1 defeat at West Ham United ended their slim chances of staying up. West Bromwich Albion, who drew 0-0 at Blackburn Rovers, were already doomed. Newcastle needed to better Hull City's result against Manchester United on a tense final day of the season but faded badly in the second half against Villa despite the fact that an equaliser would have saved them. "I am disappointed and angry. We did not lose our status today, we've lost it over 38 games and we've not been good enough over 38 games," Alan Shearer, who was handed the job of saving Newcastle on April 1, told the BBC. Hull lost 1-0 at home to champions United, for whom Darron Gibson scored a stunning goal, but stayed up with a meagre 35 points after winning just one of their last 22 league games. Despite losing to a United reserve side and overseeing a remarkable slide down the table, Hull boss Phil Brown grabbed the microphone and sang to the ecstatic Hull fans who can look forward to a second season in the top flight. "Staying in the Premier League after the first season is the greatest achievement of my career - that's for sure," Brown told Sky Sports. BOTTOM SIDE Sunderland lost 3-2 at home to Chelsea but results in the other matches involving the bottom sides kept them up with 36 points. After their narrow escape coach Ricky Sbragia confirmed that he was standing down. Hull finished one clear of the drop zone with 35 points from 38 games, above Newcastle on 34 and Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion on 32. Away from the relegation dogfight, Liverpool set a new Premier League points record for runners-up, capping an impressive challenge to Manchester United with a 3-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool finished with 86 points, four behind United who clinched their third successive title last week and sent out a second-string side against Hull as they prepare for Wednesday's Champions League final against Barcelona. QUALIFYING SPOT Fulham claimed the final European qualifying berth in seventh despite losing 2-0 at home to fifth-placed Everton and Arsenal crushed Stoke City 4-1 to consolidate fourth spot. Newcastle's 16-year stint in the top flight ended with barely a whimper at Villa Park and left Shearer blaming a catalogue of failure. "I'm angry at the whole situation. I am not angry at any officials or any referees, I am just angry at the situation," he told the BBC. "I haven't been good enough, the players haven't been good enough, the managers before that haven't been good enough. The owners have made mistakes. There are huge things that have gone on at the club that haven't been right." The goal that put the fans out of their misery summed up a season of turmoil for Newcastle. Gareth Barry's shot was going harmlessly wide until it cannoned off Duff and flew into the bottom corner of Steve Harper's net. Obafemi Martins came closest to equalising with a header but they offered little after the break and were lucky not to lose by a bigger margin. Shearer sent on former England team mate Michael Owen as a late substitute but David Edgar's red card merely added a depressing footnote to Newcastle's season-long tale of woe.
24 May 2009
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