Premier League Sunday Wrap
The penultimate day of the 2012-13 Premier League season was a day of celebration in some quarters, and despair and worry in others. With only one more match to play after this week, it was almost a case of now or never for the teams, especially at the bottom of the table, playing their last home match of the season and trying to secure points.
There were also managerial departures to acknowledge, a race for the top four and a whole host of goal-laden mid-table games to enjoy.
Here's a complete wrap from Sunday's English Premier League fixtures.
Though this penultimate weekend is a full programme of Premier League fixtures, only seven matches took place on Sunday.
Saturday saw Wigan Athletic win the FA Cup with a 1-0 final win over Manchester City, so both of those sides are in action on Tuesday in the league against Arsenal and Reading respectively.
Aston Villa and Chelsea also played on Saturday in the league, as Chelsea have a Europa League cup final to look forward to mid-week, with the Blues running out 2-1 winners over Villa.
Stoke City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Stoke City took an early lead at the Britannia Stadium as they looked to try to end what has been a relatively dismal season for them on a positive note, but Spurs, chasing Champions League football, turned the match around to take a late winner.
Steven N'Zonzi scored just three minutes in, heading home unchallenged after a set piece.
It didn't bode well for Spurs at that point with Stoke only having lost four home matches all season in the league, but the away side gradually worked themselves into the match and were level after 20 minutes thanks to Clint Dempsey. The American had earlier seen a goal ruled out for offside but made no mistake when presented with an empty net after a defensive mix-up.
The second half saw Charlie Adam sent off for a second bookable offence early on, allowing Spurs to push on more for a winner—but it took until the 83rd minute for it to arrive, Emmanuel Adebayor scoring from close range after Dempsey's cross.
It leaves Spurs in fourth, two points ahead of Arsenal, who have a game in hand in the race for the top four spots. Stoke, meanwhile, are safe from relegation, but though they sit in 11th place after the game they are only two points above 17th.
Everton 2-0 West Ham United
David Moyes got a victory in his final home match in charge of Everton before he leaves to take over the reins at Old Trafford as the incoming Manchester United manager.
Everton secured a 2-0 win over West Ham courtesy of a brace from Belgian attacker Kevin Mirallas, a result that guarantees sixth place for the Toffees. West Ham, meanwhile, are left to rue an inauspicious end to the campaign, though they will have been boosted by news of boss Sam Allardyce signing a new contract to stay at Upton Park.
Mirallas opened the scoring early on, finishing off a good team move, and scored his second after half-time with the aid of a big deflection.
West Ham offered little, save for a few attempts from Kevin Nolan, and they will hope to end the season on a much more impressive note at home next week.
Sunday was all about David Moyes, though, and his final home match in charge of Everton, and he will be delighted to have secured all three points in doing so.
Fulham 1-3 Liverpool
Daniel Sturridge continued to provide the goals for Liverpool in the absence of suspended top scorer Luis Suarez, as he netted his first ever hat-trick to help the Reds come from behind to beat Fulham.
Dimitar Berbatov scored the opener as the Cottagers took the lead in the first half, heading home from close range after a terrific cross from Sascha Riether on the right, but Liverpool were quickly level after a wonderful individual goal from Sturridge. He turned Aaron Hughes inside out before lashing home a high shot and the game was level at the interval.
Sturridge got his second after a Philippe Coutinho shot was deflected into his path, and the hat-trick was sealed after Coutinho again set him up for a lofted finish over Mark Schwarzer.
In truth, Liverpool wasted at least four great chances to seal the win before the 85th-minute treble-sealing goal for Sturridge, but Fulham also had a shout for a penalty and wanted a foul called on Sebastian Coates, who was the last defender, with Alex Kacaniklic running through on goal. Neither were given by the referee.
Fulham have now lost six of their last seven league matches and are really struggling for form at the end of the season, a run which has seen them drop to 15th. Liverpool will finish seventh regardless of their final game of the season, but manager Brendan Rodgers will draw more positives from this game moving forward.
Norwich City 4-0 West Bromwich Albion
Norwich City assured themselves of Premier League safety with a thumping 4-0 victory at home over West Brom, a result which takes them to 41 points and up into 12th place.
The Baggies arguably put in their worst performance of the season, which will come as a disappointment to manager Steve Clarke, who has guided them to the top eight this season and will not want to relinquish that spot so late on in the season.
Robert Snodgrass got the first goal of the game after Ben Foster had originally made a save, but the keeper was at fault for the second after he completely missed the ball, allowing Grant Holt an easy tap-in for 2-0. Gareth McAuley scored an own goal for the third, and Jonny Howson curled in an impressive fourth for the Canaries' biggest league win of the season.
Norwich will therefore start next season in the Premier League for the third season running, though they could still end this campaign as high as 10th or as low as 17th, which could have a significant impact on their ability to spend money this summer.
QPR 1-2 Newcastle United
Newcastle, like Norwich, sealed safety with a win on Sunday, while QPR look set to bow out with yet more woeful problems on the pitch.
QPR were handed an early lead from the penalty spot, which Loic Remy scored, though it was questionable whether the foul that led to the spot kick was inside the penalty area or not. Newcastle levelled with a controversial penalty of their own, which Hatem Ben Arfa both won, after Jose Bosingwa appeared to grab his shirt, and scored.
Horrible decision-making from Bosingwa and Rob Green allowed Yoan Gouffran an easy finish for the winning goal after Green's clearance was charged down, and the Magpies had to see out the game with 10 men when their own keeper Rob Elliott was sent off for handling the ball outside his area.
Bosingwa and Stephane Mbia were both booed by their own fans and subbed at half-time as the credits on the comedy act that is QPR's season continue to roll. They will now very likely end the campaign rock bottom in the league despite the huge amounts of money spent over the last 18 months.
Sunderland 1-1 Southampton
The topsy-turvy nature of the relegation battle was epitomised at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
Sunderland took the lead in the second half to rise up to 11th place in the Premier League table and 41 points, a total which would have seen them guaranteed to stay up—but then Southampton found an equaliser to likely seal their own safety instead, which saw Sunderland plummet back down to 17th, just one place above the drop zone.
The Black Cats will now hope that Arsenal can beat Wigan on Tuesday, a result that would doom Wigan to go down and leave Sunderland, as well as everyone else above them, safe.
Phil Bardsley scored the opening goal of the game after Adam Johnson's lay-off, but Jason Puncheon scored the all-important equaliser at the second attempt soon after.
Both teams had chances to take all three points, but Paolo Di Canio still has work to do to ensure top-flight safety. Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, knows his side are probably already safe, but they could still do with another point or three on the final day of the season against Stoke City.
Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City
The story of the day at the top end of the table came at Old Trafford, where long-serving Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson had his last game in charge of his team at his own stadium.
United won the game 2-1, with a fittingly late winning goal deciding the outcome. The home side also lifted the Premier League trophy, their 20th top-flight championship win.
Wayne Rooney being left out of the match day squad caused plenty of commotion pregame, but it was Javier Hernandez who took the opportunity to score the opening goal on the pitch and put his team ahead early on.
Swansea City's Michu volleyed in a fantastic equaliser, and his team had chances to press on in the second half and take the three points themselves. But Ferguson's day couldn't be spoiled, and Rio Ferdinand scored his first goal in five years to win the match.
A postgame celebration of Ferguson's time at the club and the trophy-lifting ceremony were the main focus of the day, though, and the Scot will be in charge of his team for the final time next week away from the stadium he called home for 27 years.
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