LONDON: Wigan Athletic remain in the Premier League relegation zone after Emmerson Boyce's last-minute own goal gifted Tottenham Hotspur a 2-2 draw on Saturday, while Liverpool put the Luiz Suarez saga behind them with a 6-0 thrashing of Newcastle United.
Having earlier cancelled out Gareth Bale's opener for Spurs with an 11th-minute header, Boyce inadvertently diverted Tom Huddlestone's free-kick into his own net in the dying stages at the DW Stadium.
A left-foot howitzer by Callum McManaman early in the second half had looked set to heave Wigan out of the bottom three, but the FA Cup finalists now trail fourth-bottom Aston Villa by two points with four matches to play.
The dropped points were similarly damaging for Spurs, who squandered an opportunity to move back into the Champions League places and could fall further off the pace if third-place Arsenal and fourth-place Chelsea win their games on Sunday.
“When you are at the bottom of the table, it seems you attract the ball to the back of your net sometimes, but those are the small margins that sometimes affect the results,” said Wigan manager Roberto Martinez.
“But I couldn't be happier and prouder. We need to perform in the same manner. If we perform as we did today, then we will be OK.”
Liverpool proved there is life after Suarez by romping to a crushing win at St James' Park to deepen Newcastle's relegation fears.
Suarez is beginning a 10-match Football Association ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, but he was not missed as Newcastle slumped to their heaviest home defeat since 1925.
Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson each scored twice, with Daniel Agger and substitute Fabio Borini also on target.
Newcastle, who lost Mathieu Debuchy to a late red card, sit five points above the bottom three but have now played a game more than all four teams below them.
Unlike Wigan, and Newcastle, Stoke City can start thinking about another season among the English elite after a 1-0 win at home to Norwich City sent Tony Pulis's side soaring up to 12th place in the table, eight points clear of the bottom three.
Charlie Adam scored from a Peter Crouch knock-down early in the second half at the Britannia Stadium to leave Norwich six points above the relegation zone in 14th place.
“The three points are vital because we have tough games coming up,” said Stoke manager Pulis.
“Our first challenge is always to stay in the Premier League. Anything else is a bonus.”
Earlier, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure scored a pair of fine goals as Manchester City began life as former champions by winning 2-1 at home to West Ham United.
City relinquished their league crown to Manchester United earlier in the week but their success over mid-table West Ham gave them an eight-point cushion in second place and took them closer to Champions League qualification.
Aguero opened the scoring with a well-worked effort after 28 minutes on a bright, sunny day at the Etihad Stadium, before Toure settled the game seven minutes from time with a crisp left-foot drive that flew into the top-left corner.
The only blemish on City's day came in injury time, when goalkeeper Joe Hart allowed a powerful Andy Carroll shot to squirm between his legs and over the line.
“I'm happy for this performance,” said City manager Roberto Mancini. “I'm unhappy for the goals we missed, as we could have scored more goals, but this has been our problem this season.”
Everton improved their chances of European football next season with a 1-0 win at home to Fulham that left them three points behind fifth-place Spurs, albeit having played a game more.
South African midfielder Steven Pienaar scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute at Goodison Park, sweeping the ball into the bottom-left corner from Seamus Coleman's cut-back.
Meanwhile, Marc-Antoine Fortune scored one goal and made another but was then sent off as West Bromwich Albion won 3-0 at Southampton, who ended the game with nine men.
Fortune forced the ball over the line from a corner in the sixth minute and then released Romelu Lukaku to add a second goal with 23 minutes remaining.
Shane Long claimed a late third but by that stage Fortune had been shown a straight red card for slapping Southampton's Gaston Ramirez.
The Uruguayan had angered Fortune by catching Long with an elbow and he was also dismissed for that offence, with team-mate Daniel Fox following Ramirez down the tunnel after he jumped in on Steven Reid.