Fletcher put United in front but there was to be no dramatic final-day twist
By Paul Fletcher
Manchester United comfortably defeated Stoke but were deposed as Premier League champions on an afternoon of anti-Glazer protests at Old Trafford.
Darren Fletcher notched from close range, Ryan Giggs struck from 14 yards, Danny Higginbotham scored an own goal and Park Ji-Sung headed home.
But Chelsea thrashed Wigan to claim the win they needed to deny United a record fourth successive title by a point.
Wayne Rooney limped off late on in a worrying development for England.
It was not a great afternoon for Rooney, who had gone into the match level on goals with Chelsea's Didier Drogba only for the Ivorian to score a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge to finish as the Premier League's top scorer.
Rooney injury not serious - Phelan
Rooney, central to England's hopes at the World Cup, was withdrawn on 77 minutes shortly after he had signalled his discomfort to the United bench.
The 24-year-old striker sustained an ankle injury in United's Champions League tie against Bayern Munich on 30 March but after recovering from that picked up his groin problem during a training session in late April.
However, Rooney was able to join in with the team's lap of honour at the end of the match, indicating that his problem is not serious.
United needed Chelsea to slip up against the Latics at Stamford Bridge if they were to snatch a dramatic 19th league title.
That was always an unlikely proposition and the relaxed manner of Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson as he signed autographs in the 30 minutes before kick-off indicated that he felt the title was beyond his team.
Chelsea scored an early goal against Wigan and word quickly spread around Old Trafford, ensuring that United's subsequent goals lacked their customary sense of drama and excitement.
There had been tense scenes outside Old Trafford before the match as supporters protested against the Glazer family's ownership of the club.
A smoke bomb was let off outside the club megastore while fans congregated near the entrance to the directors' box.
Man Utd will bounce back - Fletcher
Many supporters waved placards inside the ground with the words "Go, Glazers out" on them and whistles were blown in protest during half-time.
The match itself was a straightforward affair for United, although a combination of stubborn Stoke defending and poor finishing, particularly from Dimitar Berbatov, initially frustrated the home team.
Andy Wilkinson blocked a low strike from Berbatov and Higginbotham bravely smothered a strike from Patrice Evra after the defender dribbled his way into the Stoke area.
Berbatov was guilty of two poor headed misses, the first from six yards flew over the crossbar and the second skimmed the top of the woodwork.
But there was little possibility that Fletcher would miss after an unfortunate ricochet off Dean Whitehead presented the United midfielder with the simplest of tap-ins shortly after the half-hour mark.
Potters goalkeeper Asmir Begovic comfortably saved from Gary Neville before Giggs slotted home with his first-time finish after a low cross from Berbatov was allowed to run across the Stoke area.
Anti-Glazer protests took place before and during the game
The visitors offered precious little goal threat until Ricardo Fuller forced a sharp save from Edwin van der Sar with a shot on the turn in first-half injury time.
It was not indicative of events to follow and the result was beyond doubt when Higginbotham diverted a drilled low cross from Rooney into this own net minutes after the restart.
Paul Scholes went close with an audacious chip, while Begovic made a one-handed save to thwart Nani after the Portugal international had been played through by an exquisite Rooney pass.
Van der Sar made two excellent saves to deny Rory Delap and Danny Pugh as United kept a clean sheet.
There was just time for substitute Park to head the ball home after Stoke failed to deal with a corner but the afternoon was tinged in disappointment as Chelsea hammered Wigan 8-0 to claim the title.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis: "United deserved to win and were the better team.
"We have had a good season and are only the second team in the history of the Premier League to beat our first year's points tally in the second season.
"We are debt free and Stoke is a great club to be at."
90:00+1:16 The referee brings the game to a close.
89:26 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ji-Sung Park by Glenn Whelan. Shot comes in from Ryan Giggs from the free kick,
save by Asmir Begovic.
87:08 Ryan Giggs decides to take the corner short.
83:36 The assist for the goal came from Ryan Giggs.
83:36 GOAL - Ji-Sung Park:Man Utd 4 - 0 Stoke Ji-Sung Park finds the back of the net with a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Man Utd 4-0 Stoke.
83:15 Outswinging corner taken by Ryan Giggs,
81:33 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ricardo Fuller by Nemanja Vidic. Direct free kick taken by Ryan Shawcross.
78:54 Booking Nemanja Vidic receives a caution for dissent.
76:48 Substitution Ji-Sung Park on for Wayne Rooney.
76:35 Danny Pugh takes a shot. Save made by Edwin Van der Sar.
76:08 Ryan Giggs decides to take a short corner.
73:52 Rory Delap takes a shot. Save by Edwin Van der Sar.
72:17 Ryan Giggs fouled by Andy Wilkinson, the ref awards a free kick. Ryan Giggs takes the free kick.
68:11 The offside flag is raised against Rory Delap. Edwin Van der Sar restarts play with the free kick.
65:27 Andy Wilkinson takes the direct free kick.
65:27 Substitution Salif Diao is brought on as a substitute for Dean Whitehead.
65:27 Substitution (Stoke) makes a substitution, with Danny Pugh coming on for Mamady Sidibe.
65:27 Substitution Danny Higginbotham leaves the field to be replaced by Danny Collins.
65:27 Unfair challenge on Andy Wilkinson by Federico Macheda results in a free kick.
64:31 Corner taken short by Luis Nani.
64:18 Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Luis Nani.
63:05 Luis Nani takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic.
62:34 Luis Nani concedes a free kick for a foul on Danny Higginbotham. Dean Whitehead takes the direct free kick.
61:12 Substitution Dimitar Berbatov goes off and Federico Macheda comes on.
61:12 Substitution Darron Gibson replaces Paul Scholes.
60:57 Shot from just outside the area by Paul Scholes misses to the left of the target.
59:30 Shot by Gary Neville from outside the box goes over the net.
56:52 Danny Higginbotham restarts play with the free kick.
56:52 Booking Paul Scholes goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
56:49 Paul Scholes concedes a free kick for a foul on Dean Whitehead.
55:56 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ryan Shawcross by Nemanja Vidic. Asmir Begovic takes the free kick.
55:20 Corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs from the left by-line, clearance by Ryan Shawcross.
53:17 Assist by Wayne Rooney.
53:17 GOAL - Danny Higginbotham:Man Utd 3 - 0 Stoke Danny Higginbotham scores an own goal. Man Utd 3-0 Stoke.
53:15 The ball is sent over by Wayne Rooney.
48:52 Corner taken right-footed by Glenn Whelan.
45:01 The second half has started.
45:00+1:29 The players leave the pitch at half time.
45:00+0:55 Darren Fletcher concedes a free kick for a foul on Ricardo Fuller. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Glenn Whelan,
Darren Fletcher makes a clearance.
45:00+0:42 Ricardo Fuller takes a shot. Save by Edwin Van der Sar.
45:00+0:12 Ryan Giggs delivers the ball, save by Asmir Begovic.
43:12 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Robert Huth gets a block in.
42:02 Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Ryan Shawcross gets a block in.
41:28 Corner from right by-line taken by Ryan Giggs.
38:47 The assistant referee flags for offside against Ricardo Fuller. Edwin Van der Sar takes the free kick.
37:10 Assist on the goal came from Dimitar Berbatov.
37:10 GOAL - Ryan Giggs:Man Utd 2 - 0 Stoke Ryan Giggs scores a goal from the edge of the penalty box low into the middle of the goal. Man Utd 2-0 Stoke.
37:07 The ball is sent over by Dimitar Berbatov,
36:11 Unfair challenge on Glenn Whelan by Darren Fletcher results in a free kick. Asmir Begovic takes the free kick.
34:52 Foul by Dimitar Berbatov on Robert Huth, free kick awarded. Indirect free kick taken by Asmir Begovic.
33:17 Gary Neville takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic.
32:05 Nemanja Vidic takes a shot. Robert Huth gets a block in.
30:02 GOAL - Darren Fletcher:Man Utd 1 - 0 Stoke Darren Fletcher gets on the score sheet with a goal from close in to the top left corner of the goal. Man Utd 1-0 Stoke.
29:36 Corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs.
27:41 Corner taken short by Luis Nani.
26:45 Foul by Ricardo Fuller on Gary Neville, free kick awarded. Paul Scholes takes the direct free kick.
25:42 Darren Fletcher sends in a cross, Danny Higginbotham makes a clearance.
22:07 Luis Nani produces a cross, Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot.
18:35 Ricardo Fuller takes a shot. Edwin Van der Sar makes a save.
16:50 Patrice Evra takes a shot. Blocked by Danny Higginbotham.
12:32 Luis Nani takes a long range shot harmlessly clearing the crossbar.
10:57 A cross is delivered by Luis Nani, Dimitar Berbatov has a header from close range and clears the crossbar.
9:24 Free kick awarded for a foul by Matthew Etherington on Paul Scholes. Luis Nani shoots direct from the free kick.
7:03 Dimitar Berbatov is ruled offside. Asmir Begovic takes the indirect free kick.
5:52 Short corner taken by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line.
5:38 Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Andy Wilkinson gets a block in.
4:37 Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Huth.
3:54 Corner from the left by-line taken by Glenn Whelan, clearance by Dimitar Berbatov.
3:13 Unfair challenge on Ricardo Fuller by Nemanja Vidic results in a free kick. Matthew Etherington delivers the ball from the
free kick left-footed from right wing, clearance made by Dimitar Berbatov.
2:42 A cross is delivered by Patrice Evra, clearance made by Ryan Shawcross.
1:43 Paul Scholes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Glenn Whelan. Free kick taken by Danny Higginbotham.
0:00 The referee starts the match.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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