Sunderland survives in EPL, Newcastle and Norwich relegated
Sunderland completed its latest escape from relegation in the English Premier League
Sunderland completed its latest escape from relegation in the English Premier League on Wednesday - and consigned bitter northeast rival Newcastle to the second tier in the process.
A 3-0 win over Everton guaranteed safety for Sunderland with a game to spare this season, justifying its decision to hire survival specialist Sam Allardyce as manager in October. Allardyce has yet to be relegated from the English top flight in 25 years as a manager.
Newcastle - much to Sunderland's delight - and Norwich were demoted instead, joining already-relegated Aston Villa in going down just as the Premier League begins its new domestic and international TV deals worth $12 billion over the next three years.
Norwich's 4-2 win over Watford on Wednesday proved to be in vain, with Sunderland staying four points ahead. Newcastle needed a favor from out-of-form Everton at the Stadium of Light but a goals by Patrick van Aanholt and two more from fellow defender Lamine Kone eased Sunderland to victory.
It remains to be seen if Rafa Benitez, hired by Newcastle in March, triggers the break clause in his contract that allows him to terminate his three-year contract as manager. Benitez was coaching Real Madrid at the start of the season and is one of the most reputed managers around, making it hard to envisage him being in charge in England's second tier.
As for Allardyce, he gets his revenge on Newcastle more than eight years after he was fired at St. James' Park just eight months into a three-year deal, having been criticized for his brand of football.
The only things at stake in Sunday's final round of games in the Premier League is the race for the last Champions League qualification spot, between Manchester City, Manchester United and - at least mathematically - West Ham, and which team takes the Europa League berth on offer.