Sunderland continued their sensational form by beating Manchester United 1-0 to relegate Fulham and Cardiff City from the Barclays Premier League.
A draw at Manchester City and a win over Chelsea preceded last weekend's vital 4-0 triumph for Sunderland against Cardiff and Gus Poyet's men made it 10 points from the last 12 on offer thanks to Sebastian Larsson's first-half volley.
Defeats to Stoke City and Newcastle United respectively meant Fulham and Cardiff's fates were sealed, while Emanuele Giaccherini and Fabio Borini both hit the United woodwork in the closing stages.
Sunderland now hold a three-point lead over third-bottom Norwich City - who take on Chelsea on Sunday in their penultimate game - and a vastly superior goal difference.
Following a vibrant 4-0 win over Norwich last Sunday, interim United manager Ryan Giggs saw the visitors claim a first league win at Old Trafford since May 1968.
A combination of illness and a minor groin injury kept Wayne Rooney on the sidelines - the only enforced change of five made by Giggs to his starting XI.
Former United defender John O'Shea almost turned Michael Carrick's 16th-minute cross into his own goal, while Nani fizzed over and Patrice Evra headed a 20th-minute corner into Vito Mannone's arms - though clear-cut chances were at a premium.
However, their early lethargy remained and the travelling supporters were able to enliven the Old Trafford atmosphere when Sunderland took a 30th-minute lead.
Darren Fletcher allowed in-form striker Connor Wickham to send over a cross from the right and Larsson sent a controlled volley into the bottom-left corner.
Sunderland winger Adam Johnson twice failed to capitalise on clearances from goalkeeper David de Gea as the Reds staggered towards the interval.
Giggs' side slow tempo continued after the break but Johnson switched off to allow the overlapping Evra into the box and his 50th-minute centre was superbly cleared behind by Wes Brown with Javier Hernandez poised to convert.
Nemanja Vidic headed wide when the resulting corner was worked back into the area and Gus Poyet’s side suddenly found themselves defending perilously deep.
Activity in front of the away team's goal became somewhat frantic and Carrick and Vidic were both unable to force headers home when Jones chipped towards the back post.
Poyet’s side almost made the points safe on an increasingly rare foray forward after 71 minutes - substitute Giaccherini hitting the post before Jack Colback crashed the rebound into the side netting.
By that stage, Giggs had also called for considerable reinforcements in the form of Adnan Januzaj, Danny Welbeck and Robin van Persie and the latter almost enjoyed a dream return from his knee injury but prodded wide from Jones' delivery.
Fellow striker Hernandez hit high over from Evra's 81st minute cutback before Borini came agonisingly close, striking the woodwork with De Gea rooted to the spot.
Manchester United interim manager Ryan Giggs: "I feel flat. The players were flat and I don't know why. Credit to Sunderland they are in good form, and they created the best chances. We lacked that bit of quality in the final third.
"We were putting five or 10-yard passes astray and if you do that in the Premier League you get punished. We've had a problem at home all season, it's not been good enough.
"I can't tell you anything about the next manager, I am just concentrating on the next game. The quality is still there in the dressing room but we didn't show it."
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet: "I said a long time ago that we would fight to the end, and what a game of football we played today.
"I don't know how many records have changed this season, we have been down there all season but if we win and stay up it's an incredible season. We done so many things right but it's been so difficult.
"The goal gave us that extra but that you need. We knew that United would make changes and go for us but on another day we win 3-0. We hit the post twice. I hope my old team Chelsea give me a hand tomorrow. But if we win one more game we are safe.
"I said to the boys after the game, thank you. It was tough and there were moments when we looked very tired but we coped with the situation and the clean sheet today is immense."
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|29 Nov 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
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|14 Dec 2014||v Man Utd (H)|