There was drama, heartbreak and ecstasy all across England on Sunday night, as the final match day of the 2011/12 Premier League played out to some incredibly stunning and emotionally charged scenes!
At the sharp end of the table, Roberto Mancini and Manchester City claimed their first league title in 44 years, with a nail-biting 3-2 win over Mark Hughes and QPR - Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero scored twice in the five minutes of stoppage time in a match that could not have been written to be more exciting. Over at the Stadium of Light, Manchester United could only wait, listen and sink to the ground in despair, as news of first Dzeko and then Aguero's goal killed any joy they would have derived from their hard-fought 1-0 win over Sunderland.
Meanwhile, the fight for Champions League football for next season has also been settled with London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham edging Newcastle United out of third and fourth position. The Gunners were forced to once again battle back from a goal down - Graham Dorrans and Shane Long struck to cancel out Yossi Benayoun's fourth minute opener before Andre Santos and then Laurent Koscielny turned into unlikely heroes. The win guarantees Arsene Wenger third spot (with 70 points from 38 games) and direct qualification to the Champions League next season.
Tottenham finished fourth after goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and second-half substitute Jermain Defoe gave Spurs a 2-0 win but will have to wait on the result of this season's Champions League final - to be played between Chelsea and Bayern Munich on 19 May - to see if they will play Europe's elite next season. As things stand, should Chelsea win the tournament this year, they will return as defending champions next season even if they have not finished in the top four of the English league this season (they finished sixth). In that case, Harry Redknapp's side will have to be content with Europa League action next year.
Meanwhile, at Goodison Park, Newcastle's brilliant season finished on a slightly damp note, after back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and, on Sunday, Everton. The Magpies, nevertheless, will look back with immense pride on an extremely successful season, one that not many expected to enjoy. However, under the guidance Alan Pardew, who has been announced as the Premier League Manager of the Season, Newcastle are beginning to look like the kind of side which once used to finish regularly in the top four or five positions of the Premier League.
Their final game, unfortunately, was not all it should have been. Everton, fighting to keep Merseyside rivals Liverpool behind them in the league (to compound an already miserable season for the Reds), beat Newcastle 3-1, with goals from Nikica Jelavic, Steven Pienaar and John Heitinga putting the ball past Tim Krul. Newcastle's consolation was an own goal by Tony Hibbert.
The hosts went ahead after 16 minutes, when South African international Pienaar's deflected shot went in and they doubled their lead in the 27th minute after Krul blocked Jelavic's first shot but failed to deal with the second. Heitinga's 65th minute header sealed all three points for David Moyes who, according to a report in the Daily Mail, is set to meet chairman Bill Kenwright over the question of transfer funds for the summer.
The visitors should have, perhaps, opened the scoring themselves, after a first minute free kick almost dribbled past the Everton defence but goalkeeper Tim Howard was alert to the danger. Newcastle's dynamic Senegalese striker Demba Ba then fired over. However, by that time Everton's sluggish start had worn off and they were beginning to ask a few questions themselves. Their first shot came after 11 minutes, when Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini headed wide. However, he was on hand to provide team mate Pienaar for the opening goal.
As the first half wore on, Everton were more and more in control, with Jelavic, Pienaar, Leon Osman and Darron Gibson all testing the visitor's defence. Newcastle could only get away in sporadic bursts, most of which wound up nowhere. They had a few shots towards the end of the half but Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa both missed their shots.
The second half was a lot more open, with Ba and his compatriot Cisse both testing Howard on at least two occasions each. The American stood firm to deny the Senegalese and was only outdone by one of his own defenders; Tony Hibbert being the culprit.
Newcastle did seize the opportunity to attack but they could not find another route past the Everton backline and it finished 3-1 to the hosts. There was a little more drama to come at the final whistle though, with players from both sides being involved in physical confrontations that resulted in Everton's Australian international Tim Cahill being shown a red card.