Results: Birmingham City 2-1 Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Everton, Charlton Athletic 2-2 Crystal Palace, Fulham 6-0 Norwich City, Liverpool FC 2-1 Aston Villa, Manchester City 1-1 Middlesbrough, Newcastle United 1-1 Chelsea, Southampton 1-2 Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Blackburn Rovers, West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Portsmouth
The centre of attention on the final day of the 2004-2005 Premier League season was at the bottom of the table. For the first time in the competition’s history, all three relegation spots were up for grabs and by full-time, only one set of supporters from Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion would be celebrating survival.
The team in the driving seat were Norwich. They were outside the bottom three and a first away victory of the season at Craven Cottage against a Fulham side with little to play for would secure their top-flight status and relegate the other three sides irrespective of their results. However, as soon as Brian McBride had the Cottagers infront after just 10 minutes, it looked like it would be a long afternoon for the Canaries supporters. Any hope of beating the drop was virtually extinguished by Papa Bouba Diop’s cracking free-kick and it turned into a mauling for Nigel Worthington’s side. Andy Cole came off the bench to round the scoring off in stoppage-time. Fulham won 6-0 and Norwich were relegated.
The Canaries’ miserable afternoon in west London meant there was an opportunity for the other three teams then to escape the drop. Southampton had the trickiest fixture even though they were at home on the last day to FA Cup finalists Manchester United. They made a brilliant start, with an own goal off John O’Shea giving the Saints a lead at virtually the same time as Norwich were going a goal down at Fulham. A Darren Fletcher header did little to change the outcomes and at half-time, the point was enough for Harry Redknapp to protect his record of not experiencing Premier League relegation on his CV. Ruud van Nistelrooy had other ideas. The Dutchman had experienced a difficult campaign plagued by injuries by his 62nd minute header – his sixth league goal of the season put the Red Devils infront and they held on for a 2-1 victory to end Southampton’s 27-year stay in England’s top-flight.
So, Norwich and Southampton were both down, which meant it was a straight shootout between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion for survival. Palace travelled to a Charlton Athletic side without a win in their last eight games but they trailed at half-time to Bryan Hughes’ first half effort. Iain Dowie then brought Dougie Freedman off the bench and soon after his arrival; he put the Eagles level with a cute chip over the advancing Charlton goalkeeper Dean Kiely. Then, Mark Clattenburg pointed to the penalty spot when Jonathan Fortune handled the ball in his own penalty area. Andy Johnson’s 21st goal of the season meant Dowie’s side were now just 19 minutes from safety. However, with eight minutes remaining, Fortune made amends with a towering header from a free-kick to level the scores at 2-2. That is how it ended but would it be enough for Palace to avoid a fourth Premier League relegation?
It wouldn’t be the case if West Bromwich Albion beat Portsmouth at The Hawthorns. The Baggies were bottom going into the final day and only a win would be enough to give them a chance of achieving survival. Just a minute after his arrival into the match as a second half substitute, Geoff Horsfield drilled the Baggies into the lead and on-loan midfielder Kieran Richardson settled the contest with 15 minutes remaining. When he scored, Palace were winning so the three points weren’t enough but Fortune’s equaliser at The Valley sent The Hawthorns into a carnival atmosphere. No team in Premier League history had ever done what West Brom had just done. They were bottom on Christmas Day but had achieved survival on this, the ultimate ‘Survival Sunday.’
Away from the drama at the bottom of the table and the other dramatic issue was who would take seventh place and the final UEFA Cup position in the table. Middlesbrough held the advantage and were playing chief rivals Manchester City at Eastlands. The scoreline was 1-1 when City had a late penalty. If Robbie Fowler had converted it, the Citizens would have claimed seventh position but his spot-kick was saved by Mark Schwarzer so Boro held on for the point that secured the last European qualification spot.
What else happened in May 2005?
- Labour and Tony Blair win their third successive General Election but only a majority of 66 seats – a great reduction on their recent margin of victory in 2001.
- After the election, Conservative party leader Michael Howard announced his intention to step down.
- Liverpool FC win their fifth European Cup in sensational fashion, beating AC Milan on penalties in Istanbul after coming back from 3-0 down at half-time to draw 3-3.
- The Eurovision Song Contest is won by Greece’s Helena Paparizou with her song “My Number One.”
- 27-year-old transport manager Tim Campbell wins the first series of The Apprentice, winning a £100,000 job with Lord Alan Sugar’s firm, Amstrad.
- American businessman Malcolm Glazer gains control of Manchester United after securing a 70% share. The takeover angers many United supporters.
- BBC Weather relaunches, changing to 3D graphics.