West Bromwich Albion were relegated from the Premier League after just one season when they lost 2-0 to Liverpool at The Hawthorns Sunday.
Goals from Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt sealed West Brom's fate after a recent revival in their form suggested they could launch a second "great escape" after famously avoiding relegation in 2005.
Liverpool stayed in second place, behind champions Manchester United, moving on to 83 points -- three ahead of Chelsea, who beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the day's other match.
A fourth minute header from Florent Malouda and a 58th minute strike from Nicolas Anelka gave Chelsea victory in interim manager Guus Hiddink's last match in charge of the side at Stamford Bridge.
It was Anelka's 18th league goal of the season, putting him level at the top of the scoring chart with Cristiano Ronaldo of United.
The main talking point of the day was whether West Brom could upset Liverpool and keep alive their improbable hopes of staying up. Those chances receded after 28 minutes when England's Footballer of the Year Gerrard pounced on a mistake by centre-back Shelton Martis.
He failed to control a soft pass from a team mate and Gerrard was first to the loose ball, powering forward and firing past Albion goalkeeper Dean Kiely. It was his 24th goal of the season in all competitions, extending his personal record.
Kuyt added the second in the 63rd minute when he flew past Jonas Olsson and shot low into the net.
"We've played some teams off the park this season and not got the results. It's just a lack of experience and naivety, maybe being a bit too gung-ho at times," West Brom midfielder Jonathan Greening told Sky Sports News.
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez said: "We have to be disappointed because the target was to win the title. But second can be really good if we build from here.
"The mentality today was good and hopefully it will be the same in the future. We've improved the squad. We have a very good group of players now."
As they have done for most of the season, West Brom played some attractive football without results in front of goal. Their fans gave them rousing support throughout the game and cheered as the players did a lap of honour with popular manager Tony Mowbray after the final whistle.
West Brom play their last match at Blackburn next Sunday and remain bottom with 31 points. Sunderland (36 points), Hull City (35), Newcastle United (34) and Middlesbrough (32) are all still hoping to avoid filling the other two relegation places.
Liverpool, attempting to finish as runners-up to Manchester United who retained the title Saturday, stretched their unbeaten League run to 10 matches and moved on to 83 points, their best tally since the Premier League started in 1992-93.
Chelsea, who are now likely to finish third, were largely in control against a Blackburn side relieved to have avoided relegation last week.
Their crowd also gave them a rousing home farewell before their last game of the season at Sunderland next week and before the FA Cup Final against Everton at Wembley Stadium on May 30.
A number of fans displayed banners pleading with Hiddink to stay as manager before he leaves the club at the end of the season when he resumes coaching the Russia national side.