Everton v Newcastle
Brilliant Everton dismantled lacklustre Newcastle United to hold off neighbours Liverpool and secure a top-seven Premier League finish.
The Blues went into the contest knowing victory would see them end the campaign as Merseyside's highest-placed side for the first time since 2005 and had it all but sewn up inside half an hour.
After a bright Newcastle opening, the Blues hit back and took the lead on 16 minutes when Steven Pienaar's thunderous drive looped off defender Mike Williamson and beyond the helpless Tim Krul.
Just 11 minutes later, Nikica Jelavic expertly thumped home at the second attempt to double the lead and the Blues were cruising.
Newly-crowned Player of the Season John Heitinga extended the gap to three after the break, and though Tony Hibbert put through his own net late on, a precious and highly-sought after win never looked in doubt.
Even a red card for Tim Cahill after the final whistle couldn't sour the Everton celebrations.
The ease with which David Moyes' men strolled to victory was all the more surprising given that Newcastle themselves needed to win to have any chance of making their Champions League dream a reality. They, however, can take solace from a place in next season's Europa League.
Moyes was able to welcome back Leighton Baines, Darron Gibson and skipper Phil Neville from injury, meaning Tim Cahill, James McFadden and Players' Player of the Season Sylvain Distin were deprived of a final-day start.
Before kick off Jelavic was presented with his Barclays Premier League Player of the Month award for April, a reward for a haul of seven goals in just four games.
Yet it was his Newcastle counterpart Papiss Cisse, another revelation since arriving in England in January, who almost sniffed out the first chance
inside 45 seconds.
Hatem Ben Arfa delivered a whipped free-kick into the box, picking out Cisse's compatriot and strike partner Demba Ba, but the Senegalese international's flick on took a nick off Heitinga, diverting the ball away from the loitering dangerman and allowing Tim Howard to gather.
The goalkeeper, who was equalling Pepe Reina's record of 183 consecutive Premier League appearances for the same club, then had to be alert twice to come and gather searching Newcastle centres as the Mapgies signalled their intent early.
The repercussions of defeat for both sides were not exactly unthinkable but certainly grim. It gave rise to an edge which saw Heitinga harshly go into the book on six minutes for a challenge on Cisse. Within moments Cheick Tiote was joining him for a scything hack on Marouane Fellaini and you thought the tone of the battle had been set.
And yet Everton came alive, and Newcastle crumbled.
Just moments after Fellaini had gone close with a looping header, the Belgian turned provider and teed up Pienaar for a 20-yard strike which clipped up off Williamson and gave keeper Krul no chance.
The busy South African may then have added another almost immediately but after Leon Osman's cross-cum-shot had squirmed across the box, he could only drill his shot into the side-netting from an ever-tightening angle.
Playing on the shoulder of Fabricio Coloccini, Jelavic was also proving a handful and fired a warning when he powered his way through and forced the Argentine into a desperate late block.
The next time the defender lost his man - falling foul of a stunning first-time pass from Heitinga - the class of the Croatian would render him helpless. Krul may have thought he'd done enough in standing tall to Jelavic's initial blast but the striker was back on his feet like a child on a trampoline, adjusted to an awkward bounce and smashed the ball into
the gaping net. Goal number of 11 of an incredible half-season. Roll on August.
Overrun in midfield and flimsy at the back, Newcastle's forays into the final third were rare. With Cisse and Ba peripheral characters, Jonas Gutierrez took it upon himself to jink his way forward but could only bend his eventual effort two yards wide of the post.
Displaying his own trickery, Osman then conjured up a similar move, but after dancing past a couple of challenges, lost his balance and sent his shot bobbling harmlessly towards an advertising board.
Alan Pardew's response was to make a double-switch at the break, the Newcastle boss sending on Ryan Taylor and Sylvain Marveaux for Davide Santon and James Perch.
The remaining players would no doubt have been sent out with a half-time reality check ringing in their ears and again they were immediately on the pulse from the kick off. This time some neat footwork from Yohan Cabaye allowed Ben Arfa to toe the ball on to the unmarked Cisse. But with the freedom of the penalty box and time to boot, the striker inexplicably passed the ball limply wide of the target.
Ba blew another chance soon after and as Goodison became aware that the title race had taken its latest twist, Everton went forward and added their third.
A free-kick allowed Darron Gibson to swing the ball into the centre and there was Heitinga to crown his impeccable campaign with a timely, deserved first Premier League goal of the season.
Job done, Everton played it out expertly to ensure Merseyside bragging rights would be theirs. There was just one blip when Hibbert headed into his own net after being caught out by a long, swirling punt forward.
And seconds after the final whistle substitute Cahill was shown a red card for an off the ball altercation.
But it was quickly forgotten, the players re-emerging from the tunnel to thank the Goodison faithful for their support with a well-received lap of honour.
It was a fitting end to a fine afternoon.