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Duff's own goal condemns Magpies

A CRUEL own goal by Damien Duff hurtled Newcastle United to relegation from the Premier League following a 0-1 defeat at Aston Villa on Sunday.

Newcastle followed North-East rival Middlesbrough through the trap door after Boro's 1-2 defeat at West Ham ended its slim chances of staying up. West Bromwich Albion, which drew 0-0 at Blackburn Rovers, was 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 equalizer 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 0-1 at home to champion United, for whom Darron Gibson scored a stunning goal, but stayed up with a meager 35 points after winning just one of its 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.

Sunderland lost 2-3 at home to Chelsea but results in the other matches involving the bottom sides kept it up with 36 points. After its 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 which clinched its third successive title last week and sent out a second-string side against Hull as it prepares for tomorrow's Champions League final against Barcelona.

Fulham claimed the final European qualifying berth in seventh despite losing 0-2 at home to fifth-placed Everton and Arsenal crushed Stoke City 4-1 to consolidate fourth spot.


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