Ranking the Premier League's best final-day survival scraps
Survival Sunday - it's one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking days to be a football fan. We relive four of the best.
The climax of the 2008/09 season was as much about local pride as it was Premier League survival.
With Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland making up three of the four teams that were in danger of taking the two available relegation spots – alongside Hull – it was a north-eastern affair.
But it’s harder to rank this any higher fourth, given that both the second and third-bottom sides at the start of the day – Middlesbrough and Newcastle – were the ones ultimately relegated.
Boro started the day three points behind 17th-placed Hull, while Newcastle were only one from safety and two back on Sunderland.
All four teams were defeated in their final game of season, with none even taking the lead, meaning that the configuration of the table stayed exactly the same throughout the 90 minutes.
While the day didn’t deliver as much on excitement, you have to assume it was a great day to be a Sunderland fan.
Imagine winning 4-0 on the final day of the season in a four-team relegation shoot-out and missing out on survival by goal difference.
It would be enough to make any fan weep.
But it’s exactly what happened to Reading in 2007/08, despite occupying 17th place for over an hour while their match away to already-relegated Derby took place.
Steve Coppell’s side started the day in 18th and on 33 points, one above second-bottom Birmingham, level with 17th-placed Fulham and three behind Bolton.
After James Harper put the Royals a goal up within 15 minutes, they climbed above Fulham.
The Cottagers also fell below Birmingham after half an hour when Alex McLeish’s side went a goal up against Blackburn.
It stayed that way until the 76th minute, when Danny Murphy struck the only goal of the game for Fulham at Portsmouth.
As a result, Reading and Birmingham slipped back into the relegation zone. Despite the sides winning 4-0 and 4-1 respectively, there was no cause for celebration among players or fans.
Five sides battling to avoid two relegation places on the final day of the Premier League season? As a neutral, you simply love to see it.
Just one point split Wigan, Blackpool, Birmingham, Wolves and Blackburn ahead of 2010/11’s chaotic climax.
Complicating matters further, Wolves hosted Blackburn. With both sides on 40 points and the other three on 39, each knew a victory would ensure survival.
The 90 minutes that followed were as dramatic as you would expect.
Blackburn went in 3-0 up at half-time, Blackpool were drawing 1-1 with Manchester United at Old Trafford and both Wigan and Birmingham’s respective games at Stoke and Tottenham were goalless.
At this stage, Wolves and Wigan were down but neither would finish the day in the bottom three.
The twists that followed in the second half would have left most stadium-going fans wishing for an abacus.
The combination of sides in the relegation zone changed four times during the next 45 minutes, with Blackpool and Birmingham ultimately succumbing to the drop after losing their respective matches.
You can’t beat the original for excitement.
The 2004/05 season was when the term Survival Sunday was born. Beforehand, there was no precedent for having all three Premier League relegation spots undecided going into the 38th game.
It is because of this topsy-turvy day that we have a reference point for the others listed above.
🤯 How insane was West Brom's Great Escape 15 years ago? pic.twitter.com/5ezcDOPpr2— betway (@betway) May 14, 2020
Since the introduction of three points for a win in 1981, the battle for the drop had never been as tight.
With just two points separating the bottom four, it was the top flight’s closest final-day relegation battle since the 1927/28 season.
Norwich started in 17th place but Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Brom would all climb out of the relegation zone at some stage throughout the day.
The Baggies had been bottom of the table before a ball was kicked, but it was in keeping with a madcap afternoon that they were the ones who managed to save themselves after beating Portsmouth 2-0.
Elsewhere, Norwich had been thumped 6-0 by Fulham, Southampton blew a lead to lose 2-1 against Manchester United, while Crystal Palace drew 2-2 with Charlton after conceding an 82nd-minute equaliser. Ouch.
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