Wigan mercilessly destroys Newcastle dream
Luis Suarez scored a brilliant hat-trick as Liverpool warmed up for next week's FA Cup final with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Norwich yesterday.
The Uruguay international netted twice in four first half minutes before chipping goalkeeper John Ruddy from just inside the Norwich half.
A home game with Fulham tomorrow night is Liverpool's final dress rehearsal for Saturday's Wembley date with Chelsea.
But it was Newcastle's bid for Champions League qualification which was the biggest shock as Wigan eased its relegation fears with a 4-0 thumping over the Magpies.
Newcastle had dreamed of a place in European soccer's elite competition after moving into the top four last week with its sixth straight victory.
But Newcastle boss Alan Pardew's side was blown away in a devastating first-half display by Wigan, which moves three points clear of the drop zone with two games left.
Wigan raced to a 2-0 lead inside the opening quarter-hour, Victor Moses scoring a brace in the 13th and 15th minutes. Shaun Maloney added a third for the Latics on 36 minutes before Franco Di Santo made it 4-0 with a long-range effort on the stroke of half-time.
Pardew blamed a lack of intensity.
''Forget shape, systems and so on - intensity is everything in football,'' he said. ''For the first two goals, we were really loose and disorganised. It was not until half-time that we got back to our level and showed discipline. You'd have to say we got beat by the better team.''
With Newcastle's defeat, Arsenal moved four points ahead of it to cement its grip on third place after battling to a 1-1 draw at Stoke.
Peter Crouch headed Stoke into the lead on nine minutes before Arsenal's Robin van Persie levelled.
In other matches, Bolton's hopes of moving out of the bottom three were dashed after it drew 2-2 at Sunderland, Aston Villa scrapped to a 0-0 draw with West Brom, Australian Tim Cahill scored against Socceroos teammate Mark Schwarzer as Everton crushed Fulham 4-0, and in a bizarre game relegated Wolves fought back from 3-0 and 4-1 down to grab a 4-4 draw against Swansea. AFP-AAP