Kevin Garside: Final day coverage lifted by a penalty row, a cold sponge and a Gareth Bale screamer

The assumption Spurs would bury Sunderland was universally made

Super Sunday turned funereal, Arsenal's early second-half goal draining the dramatic tension from the afternoon, shifting the focus from Champions League qualification to those who would be leaving us. Sir Alex Ferguson at the Hawthorns then over to Anfield for Jamie Carragher's parting.

With only one outcome to decide, there was little hope of matching the excitement of last season's denouement or even the final day in the Championship, for which the coverage of Hull manager, Steve Bruce, frying on the touchline during a frantic fixture at home to Cardiff deserved a Bafta for the boys at Sky Sports.

Beneath them Watford might have nicked the automatic promotion slot, Bolton were denied a play-off place by a late goal from Leicester at Nottingham Forest and at the bottom Barnsley, Huddersfield and Peterborough flirted with the trap door before it finally slammed shut on the Posh. The Sky panel were in foment.

The burn yesterday was slow. Jamie Redknapp admitted he had no clue what might happen. All about what Arsenal do, said Gary Neville, "One last twist," demanded presenter Ed Chamberlain of the afternoon. The assumption that Spurs would bury Sunderland was universally made and took the panel to St James' Park where, according to said assumption, Arsenal needed a win to guarantee fourth.

The goals were going in elsewhere. There was a couple at Stamford Bridge, which had the potential to draw Arsenal into a third-place play-off if Everton held Chelsea at 1-1. But nothing much to report from the featured matches.

Apart from an early Papiss Cissé effort that cleared the bar, the most telling talking point in the opening 20 minutes at Newcastle was the delicate knock taken by Jonas Gutierrez.

"We can see where that hurt," remarked Alan Smith. "He'll need a cold sponge on that." The camera cut immediately to his manager, Alan Pardew, urgently removing the top from his bottle of water, allowing the inference that relief might be at hand. Alas for Gutierrez, Pardew put the bottle to his lips while his player writhed on. It was a full 35 minutes before the cameras panned to the stands to monitor fans with devices strapped to their ears awaiting news from White Hart Lane.

Time for the red button to see for ourselves. Spurs, we were informed by Niall Quinn, were denied "a nailed-on penalty" when Gareth Bale was decked in the box. The cliche was bang on, but Bale didn't get it, a decision that caused more rolling around than Gutierrez managed, and a booking to boot. Ouch.

It would be "a massive 45 minutes for the north London giants," said the commentator at Spurs, Rob Hawthorne. Oh good, because the only games without a goal involved giants from north London. Seven minutes into the second half the fateful bulletin from St James' Park informs of a goal by Laurent Koscielny to put Arsenal into the lead and fingernails at White Hart Lane at the mercy of febrile teeth.

A cruel rumour spreads that Newcastle have scored, immediately scotched by the commentary team. On the pitch Spurs continue to pepper the Sunderland goal. A post is hit, a Michael Dawson header saved, a Tom Huddlestone shot cleared off the line, Bale has a crack, Kyle Walker lets fly. Still nothing. On comes Jermain Defoe, "Correct throw of the dice," says Quinn dipping once more into his rich jar of cliches.

Sunderland's David Vaughan heads the other way courtesy of a red card for an enthusiastic challenge on Aaron Lennon. Down the clock ticked – 80, 85, 89:17 GOAL. Who else but Bale with a finish worthy of settling any match? Four minutes of added time.

News of goals from all over the place filters through, but not from where it matters, not from St James' Park. Cue subdued scenes at White Hart Lane, tumult on the Tyne.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?