LIVERPOOL: Leicester were relegated from the Premier League just seven years after a spectacular title triumph as Everton prolonged their 69-year stay in the English top flight by beating Bournemouth 1-0 on Sunday.
Leeds United will also return to the Championship after three seasons in the Premier League as their relegation was confirmed by a 4-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Abdoulaye Doucoure was Everton’s hero after the French 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 went down, despite their 2-1 win over West Ham United.
Everton began the afternoon in control of their own fate but put a raucous support of 40,000 fans at Goodison Park through the mill before securing survival.
Scoring goals has been a problem for Sean Dyche’s men and they badly missed the presence of talismanic striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Even when Everton did open up the visitors, Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers produced a stunning save to deny Idrissa Gueye midway through the first half.
Travers was a late replacement in the Bournemouth side after captain Neto missed out for personal reasons and more heroics from the Irish goalkeeper prevented Demarai Gray from opening the scoring early in the second period.
Conceding first would likely have been fatal for Everton, who have not scored more than once at home since October.
The relief around Goodison was palpable when Doucoure’s sweet strike finally got the better of Travers.
Everton still had an anxious half hour to see out and Jordan Pickford had to make a fine save to deny Matias Vina an equaliser during 10 minutes of added time to get over the line.
Meanwhile, Leicester did what they had to do on the day as the Foxes won for just the second time in 17 games. But it was too little, too late for a talented squad that badly underperformed this season.
In contrast to Everton, Leicester have an array of attacking weapons and they showed the quality they possess with the opening goal as Harvey Barnes exchanged a one-two with Kelechi Iheanacho and slotted calmly into the far corner.
Wout Faes headed in Leicester’s second just after the hour, but by that point the home crowd at the King Power knew Everton led and needed a favour from Bournemouth that never arrived.
In the night’s other match, Leeds required a series of results to go in their favour and never gave themselves a chance as Harry Kane opened the scoring after just two minutes at Elland Road.
Pedro Porro doubled Spurs’ lead early in the second-half and Kane reached 30 Premier League goals for the season after Jack Harrison had pulled one back for Leeds.
Lucas Moura rounded off the scoring with virtually his final kick of a five-year Tottenham career.
Victory for Spurs was not enough for secure a place in next season’s Europa Conference League as Aston Villa beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 to seal seventh.
Elsewhere, Manchester City had long since sealed a fourth title in five years, but the champions 25-game unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end as Brentford beat Pep Guardiola’s men 1-0.
Ethan Pinnock scored the only goal five minutes from time as the Bees completed a memorable double over City this season.
Arsenal put the disappointment of their demise in the title race to round off their season on a high as Granit Xhaka scored twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Manchester United made sure of third with a 2-1 win over Fulham as fourth-placed Newcastle United were held 1-1 at Chelsea. But the game of the day came at St. Mary’s where already-relegated Southampton and Liverpool played out a 4-4 draw.
(Tabulated under played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):
Manchester City 38 28 5 5 94 33 89
Arsenal 38 26 6 6 88 43 84
Manchester United 38 23 6 9 58 43 75
Newcastle United 38 19 14 5 68 33 71
Liverpool 38 19 10 9 75 47 67
Brighton & Hove Albion 38 18 8 12 72 53 62
Aston Villa 38 18 7 13 51 46 61
Tottenham Hotspur 38 18 6 14 70 63 60
Brentford 38 15 14 9 58 46 59
Fulham 38 15 7 16 55 53 52
Crystal Palace 38 11 12 15 40 49 45
Chelsea 38 11 11 16 38 47 44
Wolverhampton Wanderers 38 11 8 19 31 58 41
West Ham United 38 11 7 20 42 55 40
Bournemouth 38 11 6 21 37 71 39
Nottingham Forest 38 9 11 18 38 68 38
Everton 38 8 12 18 34 57 36
Leicester City 38 9 7 22 51 68 34
Leeds United 38 7 10 21 48 78 31
Southampton 38 6 7 25 36 73 25
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2023