Sports - Football - Premier League - Liverpool 2:1 Newcastle
Liverpool came back from behind to end the season on a winning note, beating 9-man Newcastle 2-1 at Anfield, but with Manchester City's comfortable 2-0 win against West Ham at the Etihad, it meant the title went to the blue side of Manchester for the second time in three seasons.
The Reds started the game a shadow of their usual fiery selves, shaky, wasteful and unable to keep the ball long enough to create a threat.
Star man Luis Suarez did have the ball in the back of the net on 18 minutes, the Uruguayan catching Tim Krul off his line with a quickly taken free kick, but too quickly for referee Phil Dowd's liking, who disallowed the goal as the ball was still rolling.
Seconds later, Anfield was stunned to silence when the Magpies took the lead after Martin Skrtel shinned Youan Gouffran's cross from the left into the back of his own net.
The Slovakian defender now holds the unwanted record of his fourth own goal of the season, taking Liverpool's total conceded to 50 goals in a 38-game top-flight season for the first time since 1914-15.
Gouffran and Shola Ameobi kept working well together for the visitors, pulling a couple of nice stops out of Simon Mignolet, whilst at the other end Suarez and co looked more and more frustrated, not challenging Krul much.
Brendan Rodgers replaced Jon Flanagan with Aly Cissokho after the break, but the frustrating trend of slips and giveaways continued, Glen Johnson being one of the main culprits, and Ameobi not happy with Skrtel's hugs and shirt-rips either.
After the Reds' second change, just before the hour mark, Philippe Coutinho replacing Joe Allen, the game picked up for the home side, and just four minutes later, they were level thanks to Daniel Agger putting in skipper Steven Gerrard's free kick.
That certainly changed the mood at Anfield, and within three minutes, they were ahead after Daniel Sturridge netted another Gerrard free kick.
And things went from bad to worse for Alan Pardew's men when Ameobi was booked and then sent off within quick succession for his protests before the restart. The Nigerian striker went straight down the tunnel after being punished for all his stick and discussions with Dowd.
Newcastle rang in the changes after the dismissal, whilst Liverpool accepted the inevitable, winning here, but with City leading 2-0, the Reds had to concede the title to the Sky Blues.
Raheem Sterling saw his goal disallowed for an obvious offside, before the visitors were reduced to nine men, substitute Paul Dummett seeing red for a stupid lunge on Suarez, the Magpies' fifth dismissal in their last four meetings with Liverpool.
The Reds just ran down the clock after that, ending the game on top 2-1, and the season second on 84 points, five places and 23 points better than last season, their highest finish in five years, and qualified automatically back into the Champions League next season after four seasons away.
Anfield applauded their side and manager, but neither could hide their disappointment after having all their hopes of a first league title in 24 years dashed as Manchester City beat West Ham to be crowned champions.
Rodgers will have to build around Stevie G. and the SAS/SSS*, especially the back line has to be strengthened after seeing Liverpool be the first team since Tottenham in 1962-63 to score more than 100 league goals and concede 50 goals in the same season.
Mignolet has had a great first season in goal, but the defence has been too shaky and leaked too much and many through. The likes of Skrtel, Johnson, Flanagan, Kolo Toure, and Mamadou Sakho have just not been good enough.
No discrediting the Reds' improvement through, and hopes and chances to challenge at the top again next season, domestically and in Europe. Thanks to BR, SAS/SSS* and Stevie G.! YNWA XxXxX
*9 - The joint-highest Goal/Assist combinations in the 2013--14 season were Suarez/Sturridge and Suarez/Sterling. (OptaJoe)
*31 - Luis Suarez's goal haul equalled a Premier League record for 38-game season, shared with Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Liverpool 2-1 Newcastle
Liverpool Goals: 1.: 63' Daniel Agger (5), 2.: 65' Daniel Sturridge (15).
Newcastle Goals: 1.: 20' Martin Skrtel (37) OG.
Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet; 38 Flanagan (20 Cissokho 46'), 5 Agger, 37 Skrtel, 2 Johnson; 14 Henderson, 8 Gerrard, 24 Allen (10 Coutinho 59'); 15 Sturridge (21 Lucas 80', booked 89'), 7 Suarez, 31 Sterling. 4-3-3
Subs not used: 1 Jones, 4 Toure, 9 Aspas, 17 Sakho.
Newcastle Team: 1 Krul; 19 Haidera, 27 Taylor (18 de Jong 73'), 2 Coloccini, 6 Williamson, 26 Debuchy (booked 35'); 11 Gouffran (booked 65') (28 Ameobi 78'), 24 Tiote (36 Dummett 82', sent off 87'), 8 Anita (booked 63'), 7 Sissoko; 23 Ameobi (booked 66', sent off 66'). 5-4-1
Subs not used: 3 Santon, 13 Yonga-Mbiwa, 21 Elliot, 37 Satka.
Opta Match Stats: Liverpool-Newcastle
On target: 5-2
From outside the box: 7-3
From inside the box: 6-5
Shot Accuracy: 62.5%-40%
Duels won: 52.6%-47.4%
Aerials won: 56.6%-43.5%
Total Passes: 673-333
Long Passes: 79%-15.6%
Passing Accuracy: 89.9%-78.4%
Pass. Acc. Opp. half: 83.9%-63.6%
Total Crosses: 22-12
(Defence & Discipline)
Fouls conceded: 8-16
Yellow Cards: 1-3
Red Cards: 0-2
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling