Minute by minute, the ups and downs of a thrilling last-day battle to avoid the drop.
Going into the final 90 minutes of the season, any one of Norwich, Southampton, Crystal Palace or West Brom could have preserved their highly-prized, financially-lucrative, top-flight status, and at some stage during the afternoon they all sniffed safety.
Here, we look at how the drama unfolded at the bottom and in the battle for the final place in Europe as Middlesbrough, Manchester City and Tottenham fought it out for seventh place.
3.10: At Craven Cottage, despite a bright start from Norwich, the Canaries go 1-0 down as a Fulham counter-attack sees Brian McBride nutmeg Robert Green from 10 yards.
3.11: Within seconds at the St Mary's Stadium, a blunder by Manchester United keeper Roy Carroll bounces off the knee of John O'Shea from just three yards out. At this stage, with the Saints 1-0 up, they are safe.
3.20: The joy of the Southampton fans is short-lived as Darren Fletcher heads home the equaliser from a perfect O'Shea cross from the left wing. Harry Redknapp's side are still out of the bottom three ( albeit just one goal better off than Palace.
3.26: At Eastlands, Middlesbrough strike a potentially-decisive blow in the battle for the UEFA Cup places, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scoring a superb 30-yard free-kick to give his side a 1-0 lead against Manchester City.
3.32: Palace's hopes nosedive with Charlton conjuring an incisive move that ends with Bryan Hughes steering the ball home from 12 yards to put the Addicks 1-0 in front.
3.35: Nigel Worthington's Canaries are staring at a return to the Coca-Cola Championship as Papa Bouba Diop beats Green with a curling 26-yard free-kick into the top right-hand corner to make it 2-0 Fulham.
3.50: With the first halves over in all the games, the scenario at the midway point sees Southampton out of the bottom three, with Boro again playing UEFA Cup football.
4.09: Manchester City are back in the hunt for a UEFA Cup spot as Kiki Musampa forces his way into the area, holding off Ugo Ehiogu in the process, before driving a low, angled shot past Mark Schwarzer to make it 1-1.
4.13: Norwich's misery continues as Fulham make it 3-0 with Zat Knight rifling home a 14-yard half-volley beyond Green.
4.18: Palace give themselves a lifeline with Dougie Freedman scoring an equaliser at The Valley with a delightfully-executed lob.
4.19: At The Hawthorns, with all the other results going their way, West Brom are out of the bottom three when Geoff Horsfield drives home the opener against Portsmouth.
4.20: Southampton's despair is suddenly exacerbated when Ruud van Nistelrooy makes the most of Alan Smith's hard work to gave United a 2-1 advantage.
4.29: Newcastle-based Mark Clattenburg awards Palace a penalty worth potentially pounds 20m when Jon Fortune handles a Freedman cross in the area.
4.30: Andy Johnson steps up and coolly sends Dean Kiely the wrong way from the spot. Palace now lead 2-1 and are just 20 minutes away from safety.
4.31: Steed Malbranque rubs salt into Norwich's gaping wounds with a fourth for the Cottagers.
4.35: Kieran Richardson gives the Baggies a two-goal cushion with a fine strike from 14 yards, but their fate now rests with Charlton.
4.42: Alan Curbishley's side duly oblige. Fortune atones for his earlier indiscretion by powering home a header from close range for a 2-2 scoreline, and now it is Albion again safe.
4.44: McBride makes it 5-0 for Fulham as Norwich exit the Premiership on the back of a hammering.
4.49: Andy Cole adds a sixth for Chris Coleman's side.
4.52: Norwich are down after a 6-0 hiding but chairman Delia Smith still wears a very brave smile.
4.52: The Saints join the Canaries in the Championship as the final whistle blows on their 2-1 defeat.
4.53: Albion secure a 2-0 victory, and now all ears and eyes turn to The Valley.
4.53: Moments later, it is all over and Albion survive as Palace can manage nothing more than a 2-2 draw to seal their relegation place.
4.56: The drama continues elsewhere with Rob Styles awarding Manchester City a contentious penalty in the third minute of six minutes of injury time, only for Schwarzer to save Robbie Fowler's spot kick and guarantee Boro another crack at the UEFA Cup.
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||May 16, 2005|
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