A THREE-minute implosion by Newcastle United – including a red card for Shola Ameobi – saw them slip to a 2-1 defeat against Liverpool as they ended their season on a sour note.
The Magpies had led at the break thanks to a Martin Skrtel own goal, but two goals in three second-half minutes from Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge – coupled with Ameobi’s sending-off – turned the game on its head.
Paul Dummett also, controversially, saw red late on as Newcastle ended the game with nine men.
The win wasn’t enough to give Liverpool the Premier League title, however, with Manchester City beating West Ham at the Etihad Stadium to claim the trophy.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew made two changes to the team that beat Cardiff City 3-0 last weekend, with Steven Taylor and Massadio Haidara replacing Loic Remy and Paul Dummett.
Remy was ruled out with injury, but Dummett was dropped to the bench as Pardew opted to play Haidara as his left wing-back in a five-man defence, with Taylor joining Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini in the centre of defence.
And the tactic worked for 45 minutes, with Newcastle going in at the break 1-0 ahead after a Skrtel own goal.
Yoan Gouffran raced down the left and into the box, and Skrtel could only divert his cross past Simon Mignolet with Ameobi lurking.
It could have been an even better first half had Gouffran taken a great chance when put through by Ameobi, but Mignolet saved his effort.
After the break, Liverpool looked to be getting frustrated, but two almost identical goals in three minutes changed that.
On 65 minutes, Steven Gerrard swung in a free-kick from the right and Agger sneaked in at the back post to convert past Tim Krul.
And when Gerrard put in another free-kick from almost the same position three minutes later, it was Sturridge this time who stabbed home with Krul floundering in no-man’s land.
To complete the implosion, Ameobi was sent off before the game could resume, picking up two yellow cards within seconds of each other for aiming a volley of abuse at referee Phil Dowd, presumably after feeling he had been fouled in the build-up to the second goal.
It was a sad end to what looks like being Ameobi’s last game in a Newcastle strip, and he was joined in the changing room before the end of the game by Dummett, who was sent off with two minutes left for a clumsy challenge on Luis Suarez, which looked an extremely harsh decision.
LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan (Cissokho, 46), Henderson, Gerrard, Allen (Coutinho, 60), Sterling, Suarez, Sturridge (Lucas, 80). Subs: Jones, Toure, Sakho, Aspas.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul; S Taylor (de Jong, 72), Williamson, Coloccini, Haidara; Debuchy, Anita, Tiote (Dummett, 81), Gouffran (Sammy Ameobi, 78); Sissoko; Shola Ameobi. Subs: Santon, Yanga-Mbiwa, Satka.
Goals: Skrtel 20 (og), Agger 63, Sturridge 65
Bookings: Debuchy 35, Anita 63, Tiote 65, Shola Ameobi 66
Sent off: Shola Ameobi 67, Dummett 88
Referee: Phil Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent)