Sunderland's relegation to the Nationwide First Division was confirmed this afternoon following their 2-0 defeat to Birmingham City at St Andrew's. Bryan Hughes opened the scoring when his 30-yard effort found the net just before the interval and Christophe Dugarry headed the second, his first goal for the club, on the hour to seal Sunderland's fate.
Fellow strugglers West Brom suffered a demoralising 2-1 defeat after taking the lead against European-chasing Everton at The Hawthorns. Igor Balis put the Baggies ahead with his side's first goal in 418 minutes of football from the penalty spot after Alan Stubbs was penalised for handball. But David Moyes' side got back on level terms when David Weir was adjudged to have got the final touch to a Mark Pembridge cross and Kevin Campbell added a second before the interval.
West Ham could only claim a despite dominating in a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa at Upton Park. Trevor Sinclair got the Hammers off to a flying start when he turned home after the Villa defence had failed to clear a Freddie Kanoute cross after 15 minutes. Villa hit back with a Darius Vassell penalty and a further effort from Oyvind Leonhardsen but Kanoute netted the crucial equaliser after 65 minutes. It could have been better for the Hammers but they failed to convert a number of late chances.
Battling Bolton remain deep in trouble after going down to a Carlton Cole goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Trotters held their own for most of the match but Cole's fine run and finish in the 58th minute proved the difference and kept Chelsea in control in the race for the final Champions League place.
Leeds are not out of the relegation woods yet but earned a 2-2 draw against Tottenham at Elland Road courtesy of two goals from Mark Viduka. The Australian fired Peter Reid's men in front but quickfire replies from Teddy Sheringham and former Leeds man Robbie Keane put Spurs 2-1 up before the break. Viduka netted his second from the penalty spot after Kasey Keller brought down Harry Kewell.
At Anfield, Liverpool kept up the pressure in the race for Champions League positions with a comfortable 2-0 win over Fulham at Anfield. The Reds dominated early proceedings but had to wait until the 36th minute for their opener when Emile Heskey struck. Michael Owen wrapped up proceedings with a second on 59 minutes.
At Ewood Park, Blackburn claimed a 1-0 win over Charlton thanks to a Damien Duff strike. Duff turned and shot smartly into the net after a Hakan Sukur knock-down in the 34th minute. The day's other Premiership game between Manchester City and Middlesbrough at Maine Road ended goalless.
Filed by Shane Murray