Norwich and Newcastle achieve safety; Spurs go fourth
On a day when Sir Alex Ferguson took charge of his final home game as Manchester United manager, there were also reasons to celebrate for Newcastle United, Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur.
Newcastle overcame Queens Park Rangers and Norwich City thumped West Bromwich Albion to secure Premier League survival, while Southampton are also virtually safe after playing out a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light which leaves Sunderland still sweating on their top-flight safety.
Tottenham climbed into fourth by beating Stoke City, Everton beat West Ham United as David Moyes said goodbye to Goodison Park, and Daniel Sturridge netted a hat-trick in Liverpool's win over Fulham.
It was a special occasion at Old Trafford as Ferguson took the applause of the Manchester United crowd ahead of his retirement in the summer, while Paul Scholes was also handed a start after it was confirmed that he would be hanging up his boots at the end of the season.
And the Premier League title winners marked the day in fitting style as they edged out Swansea City 2-1 thanks to Rio Ferdinand's late winner.
With Wayne Rooney absent from the squad, Javier Hernandez opened the scoring with a typically well-taken goal in the 39th minute.
Michu brought it back to 1-1 as he flicked home a superb equaliser early in the second period, but Ferdinand struck from close range three minutes from time and the celebrations continued long after the final whistle as Ferguson addressed the crowd and United were presented with the league trophy.
On a key day at the bottom of the table, newly-crowned FA Cup champions Wigan Athletic were pushed closer to the drop as Newcastle, Norwich, Southampton and Sunderland all picked up vital points.
Newcastle and Norwich are now safe because they cannot be overtaken by both Wigan and Aston Villa, who face each other on the final day of the season.
Newcastle had been looking nervously over their shoulders after a disappointing run of results but they will be playing top-flight football next season following a 2-1 victory at QPR.
Newcastle fell behind to a controversial penalty on 11 minutes as referee Lee Probert ruled that Mathieu Debuchy had fouled Junior Hoilett, although the incident appeared to start outside the area.
The Magpies quickly drew level, though, after being given a spot-kick of their own when Jose Bosingwa tugged Hatem Ben Arfa's shirt. Ben Arfa stepped up to take the penalty himself and blasted an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
QPR provided another example of the poor play that has blighted their season to gift Newcastle a second goal before half-time, with Yoan Gouffran seizing on a poor clearance from Robert Green to steer the ball into an empty net.
Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot was sent off with nine minutes to go but Alan Pardew's men clung on for victory.
Able to relax
Norwich also secured their top-flight status for another year with a convincing 4-0 win at home to West Brom, allowing them to relax ahead of a final-day trip to Manchester City.
Robert Snodgrass broke the deadlock for Norwich midway through the first half when he pounced on a rebound after Ben Foster had saved well from Wes Hoolahan and lifted a fine finish high into the net.
Foster presented Norwich with a second goal in the 62nd minute when he came out to clear but missed his kick and Grant Holt had the simple task of walking the ball in for just his seventh goal of the season.
A Gareth McAuley own goal three minutes later compounded a miserable day for the Baggies and Jonny Howson added a late fourth amid jubilant scenes at Carrow Road.
Southampton all but secured their Premier League safety and Sunderland inched four points clear of the bottom three after playing out a 1-1 draw.
The game exploded into life in the second half as Phil Bardsley's deflected shot flew past Artur Boruc to give Sunderland a 68th-minute lead and put the pressure on Saints.
Southampton responded well, however, as Jason Puncheon scored at the second attempt after his initial header had been brilliantly kept out by Simon Mignolet.
Tottenham came from behind in the day's early kick-off to beat Stoke 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium and go above Arsenal in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification, although the Gunners have a game in hand against Wigan on Tuesday.
Steven N'Zonzi headed the Potters in front after just three minutes from Charlie Adam's free-kick, only for Clint Dempsey to equalise in bizarre fashion when his instinctive first-time effort looped home from distance after a defensive mix-up had left Asmir Begovic stranded outside his area and the goal open.
Adam was sent off at the start of the second half for a second bookable offence and Spurs eventually capitalised on their extra man when Emmanuel Adebayor tapped home from close range with seven minutes remaining to move two points clear of Arsenal.
Moyes' final game as Everton manager at Goodison Park ended in victory as Kevin Mirallas scored twice to see off West Ham 2-0.
Mirallas stroked home a side-footed finish from the edge of the area to give Everton the lead after just six minutes, and then drilled in a second on the hour mark with the aid of a deflection to ensure Everton will again finish above Merseyside rivals Liverpool.
Liverpool are ending the season with something of a flourish, though, and extended their unbeaten record to seven games as Daniel Sturridge netted a hat-trick in a 3-1 success away to Fulham.
Dimitar Berbatov rose unmarked to head home Sascha Riether's pinpoint delivery and put Fulham ahead in the 33rd minute, but Sturridge quickly drew Liverpool level as he twisted away from his marker before rifling a powerful strike past Mark Schwarzer.
Sturridge netted his second of the day in the 62nd minute after Philippe Coutinho's shot had been deflected into his path, and then latched on to a sumptuous pass from the Brazilian to chip home his third.