Everton secured the win they required against Bournemouth to secure Premier League safety on an afternoon of nerve-shredding tension at Goodison Park.
Sean Dyche’s side knew victory would guarantee survival irrespective of events elsewhere, but for a time they were in the drop zone as they struggled to break down Bournemouth and Leicester City were beating West Ham United.
Everton finally ended the deadlock after 57 minutes as Abdoulaye Doucoure sparked an explosion of elation and relief inside an emotionally-charged Goodison Park with a powerful right-foot finish from 20 yards that gave Bournemouth keeper Mark Travers no chance of saving it.
As the tension mounted, Everton survived a couple of Bournemouth near misses and an agonising 10 minutes of stoppage time before they could confirm they would be extending their 69-year stay in English football’s top tier.
Everton escape again
The celebrations among Everton fans at the final whistle were understandable, having been put through the wringer once more in being made to wait until the season’s final game to confirm Premier League safety – they only got over the line in the penultimate match last term.
And it did not take long for loud chants of “sack the board” to sweep around Goodison Park as the fractured relationship between supporters and the club’s hierarchy bubbled to the surface once again.
The brief moment of joy and relief at full-time did not disguise the ill-feeling, with the Everton board having not attended a home game since January, citing safety concerns.
As for the game itself, it was a predictably scrappy affair on an occasion riddled with nerves – frustration mounting as Everton faced the drop with Leicester winning and Bournemouth holding firm.
It took that moment of magic from Doucoure to keep Everton in the top flight, but unless there are serious changes at the top of the club and Dyche can somehow improve a squad that has struggled so badly this season, then there is every chance they will face similar struggles next season.