May 30 – Everton emerged with their 69-year English top flight status intact thanks to a nerve-shredding 1-0 victory over Bournemouth as Leicester City and Leeds United suffered the heartbreak of relegation on a dramatic final day of Premier League action on Sunday.
Just seven years after their unexpected title triumph, Leicester went down despite beating West Ham and were joined by Leeds who were thumped 4-1 at home by Tottenham.
The pair join already relegated Southampton in tier-2 next season, replaced by Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton.
Abdoulaye Doucoure was Everton’s hero after the Mali midfielder smashed home from the edge of the box on 57 minutes to spark jubilant celebrations around Goodison Park. In contrast, Leicester were crestfallen as they were relegated after nine years in the top flight despite their 2-1 win over West Ham.
Everton began the afternoon in control of their own fate but put the support of raucous 40,000 fans at Goodison Park through the mill before securing survival.
“There’s cracks here but it’s not broken and we’ve shown that. We’ve shown the fighting spirit,” said manager Sean Dyche who took over late in the season to mastermind survival. “We shouldn’t be in this position and we’ve got to learn from this.”
Leicester did what they had to do on the day but it was too little, too late for a talented squad that badly under-performed this season. Both they and Leeds also brought in new managers in the final weeks to try and save the day but neither managed to do so.
“Every manager will think I could have done this or that but hindsight is a wonderful thing. You finish where you deserve to over a season,” said Leicester interim boss Dean Smith. “Mine was a remit to come in for seven weeks and eight games and try to keep the club in the Premier League. Unfortunately I’ve fallen a little bit short.”
Leeds required a series of results to go in their favour and never gave themselves a chance.
“It’s professional suicide,” said Leeds’ veteran interim boss Sam Allardyce. “We made critical errors at the wrong period of time.”
Victory for Spurs was not enough to secure a place in Europe, the first time they have missed out in 13 years as Aston Villa beat Brighton to finish seventh and earn a spot in next season’s Europa Conference League.
Manchester City had long since sealed a fifth title in six years, but the champions’ 25-game unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end as Brentford beat Pep Guardiola’s men 1-0 to round off a memorable second season in the top flight.
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