Newcastle and Middlesbrough were relegated from the Premier League as Hull City and Sunderland beat the drop on 'Survival Sunday'.
All four of the struggling sides suffered defeats on a tense final day of the season meaning that the North East duo who occupied 19th and 18th place at kick-off were still in possession at 6pm.
Aston Villa's 1-0 home win over Newcastle ended the Magpies' 16-year stay in the top-flight and made Hull City's defeat by the same scoreline to a much-changed Manchester United side at the KC Stadium academic.
Middlesbrough needed a miracle to beat the drop and slipped out of the elite league after a 2-1 reverse to West Ham at Upton Park with Sunderland surviving despite going down 3-2 at home to FA Cup finalists Chelsea.
Fulham claimed the final Europa League berth for next season even though they were beaten 2-0 at home by Wembley-bound Everton, with Tottenham suffering a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool as the Reds secured second place.
Arsenal ended their season in style as they romped to a 4-1 Emirates Stadium success over Stoke, while Manchester City brought the curtain down on an expectant Eastlands with a 1-0 victory over Bolton.
Wigan ended their dismal recent run with a 1-0 JJB Stadium success against Portsmouth while already-relegated West Brom took a point from their 0-0 draw at 10-man Blackburn.
Limp Magpies drop
Newcastle produced a limp display just when they needed passion and commitment as they slipped out of the Premier League with a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa.
Alan Shearer's men had two early chances as Carlos Cuellar cleared off the line from Steven Taylor before Obafemi Martins blazed over from 12 yards after a neat move.
Steve Harper was then called upon to tip over a vicious rising drive from Craig Gardner but was powerless to prevent Villa taking the lead before the break.
Newcastle could only half-clear a corner and Gareth Barry fired in a powerful strike which took a huge deflection off the unfortunate Damien Duff to wrong-foot Harper and find the bottom corner of the net.
Michael Owen was thrust into the action with 24 minutes remaining in Shearer's last throw of the dice but it was Barry who came closest to adding to Villa's lead only to curl his shot just wide.
After failing to seriously trouble Brad Friedel, Newcastle could only blame themselves, with David Edgar seeing red late on for a second bookable offence.
Sir Alex Ferguson's much-changed Manchester United team proved too good for Hull City, with the Tigers surviving by virtue of Newcastle and Middlesbrough's defeats.
United's youthful line-up forged ahead when Darron Gibson collected possession five yards out of the Hull box and curled a sublime strike into the top corner which gave Boaz Myhill no chance.
Phil Brown's side showed little appetite to chase the game and were able to celebrate at the final whistle as their early season form was enough to help them stumble to survival.
Victory for the Red Devils made all the speculation over Ferguson's team selection irrelevant and they can now look ahead to the UEFA Champions League final against Barcelona on Wednesday.
Middlesbrough's hopes of a final day miracle failed to emerge and they will play in the Championship next season after a 2-1 defeat at West Ham.
Boro's bid for the great escape suffered a massive blow when Carlton Cole applied the finishing touch to a slick passing move as he drilled a low shot home from close range after Herita Ilunga's low cross from the left evaded the Boro defence.
Gareth Southgate's men continued to battle after the break and were back on terms when Tuncay's driving run took him to the edge of the box where he played in Gary O'Neil who arrowed a shot across Rob Green and into the bottom corner.
But Junior Stanislas put the final nail in Boro's relegation coffin in the 58th minute with a low drive from just outside the area which goalkeeper Brad Jones failed to keep out despite getting both hands to the ball.
Sunderland avoided being sucked into the bottom three but did themselves no favours as they were undone 3-2 at home by FA Cup finalists Chelsea.
Ricky Sbragia's men made it to half-time unscathed but were behind within seconds of the re-start thanks to a stunning goal which sealed the Golden Boot award for Nicolas Anelka.
The Frenchman grabbed his 19th of the season as he burst from his own half before unleashing a powerful drive which arrowed into the top corner.
But the Black Cats were back on terms when Kieran Richardson - who helped West Brom beat the drop with a last-day goal in 2005 - pounced as Petr Cech dropped a routine cross from Grant Leadbitter.
Yet there was still a sting in the tail as Salomon Kalou lashed home from outside the box before Ashley Cole made it 3-1 as he followed up after Florent Malouda had seen his initial effort saved by Marton Fulop.
Kenwyne Jones' close-range header from Andy Reid's cross in added time gave the home fans something to cheer, but it was events elsewhere which gave the majority at the Stadium of Light reason to celebrate.
Cottagers in Europe
Everton marched on to the FA Cup final at Wembley on the back of a 2-0 success over Fulham, who clung on to seventh despite the defeat to secure European football for next season.
The visitors snatched the advantage moments before the break when Steven Pienaar played the ball into the box for Leon Osman to skip around Mark Schwarzer and roll home.
Osman then added a splendid second with time running out as he advanced to the edge of the area before curling a shot beyond Schwarzer.
Liverpool bagged their best-ever finish under Rafa Benitez courtesy of a 3-1 win over Tottenham which secured second and ended Spurs' European hopes.
Fernando Torres notched his 50th goal for Liverpool when he headed the Anfield outfit in front on 31 minutes as he rose highest at the far post to beat Heurelho Gomes from Dirk Kuyt's measured cross.
The Dutchman was heavily involved again for the second as his shot after being found by Yossi Benayoun was deflected into his own net by the sliding Alan Hutton.
Former Reds striker Robbie Keane then enjoyed a sweet moment in front of Benitez as he raced clear before coolly slotting beyond Pepe Reina.
There was still time for Steven Gerrard to set up Yossi Benayoun to burst into the box and complete the scoring.
Arsenal ended their disappointing season on a high as they romped to a 4-1 victory over Stoke with all five goals coming before the break.
The Gunners were gifted an early goal when James Beattie could only find the back of his own net following a short corner routine between Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott.
And they were two ahead soon after when Robin van Persie picked himself up to score from the spot after being felled by Ryan Shawcross, before the Dutchman found Abou Diaby to make it 3-0 with just 18 minutes gone.
Ricardo Fuller then drilled home a penalty for the Potters following a clumsy challenge from Denilson before Van Persie made it 4-1 courtesy of a shocking blunder by Rory Delap.
West Brom, whose relegation was confirmed before the weekend, bowed out of the Premier League with a 0-0 draw at Blackburn which was not enough to even lift them off the foot of the table.
The impressive Chris Brunt hit the bar for the Baggies before the interval before Jason Roberts was harshly dismissed late in the second half for an off-the-ball incident when he clashed with Jonas Olsson.
Manchester City's supporters are already looking ahead to next season and an expected busy summer in the transfer market as their season ended with a 1-0 home success against North West rivals Bolton.
City scored the only goal of the game early on when Robinho played a free-kick short to Stephen Ireland and his cross was finished off from close range by Felipe Caicedo.
Wigan ended their season on a high and ended an unhappy recent run of form with a narrow 1-0 home success against Portsmouth.
The Latics grabbed the only goal in the 26th minute as Charles N'Zogbia got away down the left flank and fired in a low cross which Sol Campbell failed to clear, leaving Hugo Rodallega with a simple tap-in.