Charlton 0 Tottenham 2
Charlton’s relegation from the Premiership was confirmed after they failed to find the victory over Tottenham to take their survival battle to the weekend.
Ironically, it was former Charlton striker Jermain Defoe, jeered as he came off the bench, who sealed the win with an injury-time strike after Dimitar Berbatov had scored an early opener.
It means Addicks boss Alan Pardew goes into Sunday’s clash at Liverpool without the chance of catching his former club West Ham, who are one place above the relegation zone.
Pardew’s appointment at The Valley was effectively a job swap with Alan Curbishley, who left Charlton last summer after 15 years as boss, the last six of which were in the top flight.
After his appointment at Christmas, Pardew inspired a turnaround and gave Charlton hope but the struggles under Iain Dowie and Les Reed earlier in the campaign left a mountain too high to climb. Spurs and Liverpool in the final week made it impossible.
Aside from the talk of legal action over West Ham’s Premier League punishment, focus will inevitably turn to the future of striker Darren Bent, who distinguished himself in a struggling team along with on-loan goalkeeper Scott Carson.
Bent led the Charlton attack again but found Ledley King and Michael Dawson in uncharitable mood and the striker failed to add to his 15 goals this season.
It was Carson’s last match before returning to Anfield and the England Under-21 stopper had barely had a touch of the ball before Berbatov struck in the seventh minute.
In contrast to Charlton’s distraught players at the final whistle, Spurs are on course for UEFA Cup qualification, which boss Martin Jol believes would mean a better campaign than last season when they were pipped by Arsenal to fourth place.
The difference has been their three cup runs. The victory at The Valley was their 57th games of the campaign and beating Blackburn and Manchester City later this week will see them finish fifth again.
Despite stroking the ball around with confidence, Charlton striker Marcus Bent had the first chance of the match but failed to connect when a quickly-taken corner fell to him.
Spurs scored their 100th goal of the season in the next move. Berbatov was fed a ball from King out of defence and managed to trick Talal El Karkouri before outpacing the Charlton centre-back.
El Karkouri got within range of a tackle but Berbatov finished coolly, leaving the defender prostrate and needing treatment from the physio for his efforts.
Berbatov and Robbie Keane then showed glimpses of why they were named joint Premiership players of the month, but the hosts knew they needed two goals and were urged forward by their fans.
El Karkouri tried to flick home an equaliser from a free-kick but his effort was straight at Paul Robinson, while Zheng Zhi had a sight of goal as he cut back onto his right foot inside the penalty area but white-shirted players snapped at him and his shot was blocked.
There were tame shouts from the crowd for a penalty on the half-hour mark when Dawson used his body to clear the ball, while Alexandre Song headed wide from close range from Darren Bent’s cross.
Bent then crashed an effort wide after getting behind the Spurs defence just before the break, with chances even fewer and far between after the interval.
Darren Ambrose did have a sight of goal but mis-kicked, while Dawson just got something on the ball as Zheng raced through just before the hour mark.
As a last throw of the dice, Marcus Bent was replaced by Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink and Song came off for Lloyd Sam, but it was to no avail as Spurs held on, with Defoe racing through to double their lead on the counter-attack.
At least Charlton fans remained in good spirits, despite their seven-year stay in the Premiership coming to an end.
“Always look on the bright side of life,” they sang.
Thoughts now turn to next season.