Bournemouth’s five-year stay in the Premier League is over despite a valiant effort on the final day as their 3-1 victory at Everton was not enough to avoid relegation.
Joshua King’s penalty put the Cherries ahead (13) before Moise Kean levelled for Everton with a simple tap-in four minutes before the interval.
Dominic Solanke restored Bournemouth’s lead with a fine header in first-half stoppage time before substitute Junior Stanislas extended the visitors’ lead with 10 minutes remaining.
But Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw with West Ham ensured there would be no dramatic escape for the south coast club, who return to the Championship.
Bournemouth finish 18th, with one point fewer than Villa, while Everton finish in 12th, the club’s worst league finish since 2004.
How Bournemouth’s fairytale stay ended
There were no fans present with a radio to their ear to relay the message of events taking place elsewhere, but as the whistle blew for the final time on Sunday, there was deafening silence as the Bournemouth players slumped to the ground knowing their fate was sealed.
Eddie Howe described his side’s task as “difficult but not impossible”, highlighting the incredible end to the Championship regular season as a source of inspiration for his players heading into the Premier League’s dramatic denouement.
The Cherries finished 14th last season, but since beating Aston Villa on February 1, they have taken just eight points from a possible 39, but they avoided a 10th successive away defeat with a performance full of the grit and determination that has been lacking throughout the season.
Bournemouth got off to the perfect start when a handball from Richarlison inside the box allowed King to slot home his fifth Premier League goal against the Merseysiders.
Everton were producing a candidate for “the worst performance since lockdown” according to Jamie Carragher on co-commentary, but they very nearly levelled when Kean found Theo Walcott in space behind the Bournemouth defence but he could only shoot straight at Aaron Ramsdale.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe named an attacking line-up. Former Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke came in to join fellow forwards Callum Wilson and Josh King in the starting line-up. Ex-Everton midfielder Dan Gosling returned in midfield at the expense of Philip Billing with a fit-again Adam Smith replacing replacing Jack Stacey.
Everton striker Moise Kean was given his first start since January 21 – the date of his only goal of the season so far – at the expense of the out-of-form Dominic Calvert-Lewin, while Seamus Coleman replaced Djibril Sidibe at right-back, with veteran left-back Leighton Baines on the bench for his last match for the club.
All the energy was with the Cherries’ fluid front four, and news of Arsenal extending their lead over doomed Watford would have given them an extra spring in their step – but, against the run of play, the hosts levelled four minutes before the interval.
It was a finely-constructed equaliser as Andre Gomes found Seamus Coleman on the right and, after the Everton captain cut inside Diego Rico, Walcott was allowed to cross first-time for Kean to tap in at the far post.
It felt like a body blow for Howe’s men but, as the first half entered stoppage time, Solanke rose to meet Rico’s free-kick to glance the visitors back in front. Jefferson Lerma initially claimed the goal having got the initial touch before the ball grazed the former Liverpool striker on its way past the outstretched Jordan Pickford.
Watford began a spirited fightback at Arsenal, but Bournemouth were sticking to their task as Callum Wilson forced a good save from Pickford after a deep clearance down field by Ramsdale was not dealt with by Michael Keane.
The last team to get out of the relegation zone having started in it on the final day were Wigan in 2011, but Bournemouth were still in need of a favour from West Ham.
Everton were horribly lacklustre as Bournemouth came close to extending their lead when Leighton Baines, on his final appearance as a substitute, produced a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Wilson.
But Bournemouth did find a third as more poor goalkeeping from Pickford allowed Stanislas to take King’s pass and fire beneath England’s No 1 for his fifth goal in 10 appearances against Everton.
News came through of two quickfire goals at the London Stadium, but with ultimately no change to the table as Bournemouth fell just short.
The 2020/21 Premier League season kicks off on September 12, and will run until May 23. The EFL has confirmed the Championship season will commence on the same weekend, with their regular seasons ending on the weekend of May 8.
Premier League clubs have voted for the summer transfer window to open the day after the 2019/20 season ends – on Monday July 27 – and run for 10 weeks.