Michael Owen called time on his career, but there was to be no fairytale ending, as Stoke were held to a draw at Southampton.
SOUTHAMPTON 1, STOKE 1
After an illustrious career that has taken him to Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United, the former England striker announced in March that this was to be his last season. Winner of the Ballon d’Or in 2001, a career that started with such brilliance tailed off in his latter years as injuries took their toll. The fact Owen has not started a league match for Stoke since joining them last summer only highlights that and he began the final game of his career on the bench.
Saints got off to a blistering start with Adam Lallana hitting the post and Rickie Lambert having a goal chalked off for offside inside the opening 31 seconds. That was as good as it got in a poor first half, with Stoke returning after the break with a bang as Peter Crouch headed them ahead within two minutes.
Lambert netted the 15th goal of his debut Barclays Premier League season to level and, with 16 minutes remaining, Owen came on to a standing ovation.
MANCHESTER CITY 2, NORWICH CITY 3
Manchester City saw a disappointing season and a tough week end with a tame home defeat to Norwich.
Jack Rodwell struck two excellent equalisers as last season’s Barclays Premier League champions threatened to finish with a flourish, but the Canaries deservedly finished on top at the Etihad Stadium.
City lacked bite after the dispiriting events of the past week – which included the sacking of manager Roberto Mancini – and Norwich won through Anthony Pilkington, Grant Holt and Jonny Howson goals.
The atmosphere was a far cry from that famous tension-filled final afternoon a year ago, although Norwich fans were in party mood. The City supporters, after an emotional few days, were far quieter, but a few Italian flags and Mancini chants made clear their former manager was not forgotten.
For their part, City acknowledged the contribution of Mancini with some tributes in the programme.
SWANSEA CITY 0, FULHAM 3
Fulham rounded off their Barclays Premier League campaign with a first win in eight games as Swansea’s memorable campaign concluded with a whimper at the Liberty Stadium.
A win could have seen League Cup holders Swansea finish eighth, but any suggestion the Swans were in for an easy ride were quickly dispelled and Bryan Ruiz should have given the Cottagers the lead in just the third minute, missing a straightforward chance.
However, the Cottagers, who had picked up just one point from their last seven games, took the lead in the 22nd minute through Swedish winger Alex Kacaniklic, with Dimitar Berbatov and substitute Urby Emanuelson sealing the win after the break.
Swansea enjoyed an extended spell of pressure during the second half, but Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer frustrated them with fine saves from Pablo Hernandez, Wayne Routledge and Ashley Williams.
LIVERPOOL 1, QPR 0
Forward Philippe Coutinho was Liverpool’s match-winner but Jamie Carragher was the main man at Anfield on his 737th and final appearance for the club.
The veteran centre-back brought the curtain down on a first-team career spanning 16 years 131 days. Such is his longevity that the 35-year-old has served under six different permanent managers.
While the day was rightly a celebration of his loyal service, the fact the game had the feeling of a testimonial would not have impressed the ultra-competitive, ultra-professional Carragher. Coutinho’s sweet strike after 23 minutes provided the only goal but Liverpool, who have endured another disappointing season, should have won more comfortably.
There was a sense of out with the old and in with the new as 17-year-old winger Jordon Ibe, signed from the Wycombe academy, made his debut. He was 13 months old when Carragher made his first Liverpool appearance and the youngster provided the assist for the winning goal.
WIGAN 2, ASTON VILLA 2
Wigan’s eight seasons in the Barclays Premier League came to an end with an entertaining draw against Aston Villa.
Darren Bent took advantage of a rare start to put the visitors ahead less then five minutes in, but Emmerson Boyce levelled in the 21st minute before an own goal by Nathan Baker just before half-time put the FA Cup winners ahead.
Wigan pushed for a third at the start of the second half, but they were pegged back in the 61st minute by Ron Vlaar’s volley and that was the way it stayed.
For much of the season it looked like this game could be crucial in the relegation battle, but Wigan’s defeat by Arsenal on Tuesday meant their fate was already decided. After the high of last weekend’s FA Cup triumph, it has been a rollercoaster week for Roberto Martinez’s men. Martinez had called for this match to be a celebration of all the club have achieved in their time in the top flight, and the FA Cup was brought out onto the pitch before kick-off accompanied by soprano Laurie Ashworth singing Abide With Me.
WEST HAM 4, READING 2
Captain Kevin Nolan scored a hat-trick as West Ham signed off the Barclays Premier League campaign with an entertaining win over relegated Reading at Upton Park.
The Irons were in complete control after a mistake by new England call-up Alex McCarthy gifted Nolan the opener on 23 minutes, with Ricardo Vaz Te sweeping home a second following more good work by Andy Carroll, completing the final game of his season-long loan from Liverpool.
However, the Royals, who were relegated a couple of weeks ago, responded with two quick goals at the start of the second half through Garath McCleary and substitute Adam Le Fondre.
The Irons, though, made sure of a creditable top-ten finish when Nolan netted again, latching on to a clever chip by Noble to hold off the Reading defence and slot past McCarthy, and then completed his hat-trick with a header three minutes from time.