Everton secured their Premier League survival for another season thanks to a stunning strike from Abdoulaye Doucoure that gave them a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth at Goodison Park.
The midfielder unleashed a 20-yard rocket that flew past Mark Travers in the Bournemouth goal and sent the Everton fans into ecstasy. It was his 10th goal of the season and arguably the most vital one in his career and Everton’s history.
Doucoure’s heroics completed a remarkable comeback for the Mali international, who was frozen out by former boss Frank Lampard in January and had to train on his own. He was rewarded with a contract extension earlier this week and repaid the club’s faith with his match-winning performance.
But Everton had to endure some nervy moments before they could celebrate their escape from relegation, which looked likely at half-time as they trailed Leicester and Leeds in the table. They needed some desperate defending from Conor Coady and a late save from Jordan Pickford to deny Bournemouth, who were relegated despite their efforts.
Everton had been in this situation twice before in 1994 and 1998, but on both occasions they relied on other results to go their way. This time, they had to do it themselves and they did it in style.
It was also a vindication for manager Sean Dyche, who took over in February and guided Everton to five wins in 17 games to keep them up. He had to cope with a raft of injuries and fielded an unconventional back three with James Garner and Dwight McNeil as wing-backs.
The home side struggled to create chances in the first half, with Travers saving well from Idrissa Gana Gueye and Garner. Bournemouth looked more dangerous, with David Brooks causing problems for McNeil and Dominic Solanke testing Mina.
But Everton came out stronger in the second half and got their reward when Doucoure smashed home after a poor clearance fell to him. They then held on for dear life as Bournemouth threw everything at them, but Pickford saved from substitute Matias Vina in stoppage time to seal the win.
Everton have now extended their top-flight record to 70 consecutive seasons, but they still face some challenges off the pitch as they have posted losses of over £430million in the last four years and face a Premier League charge for breaching profit and sustainability rules.
But for now, they can enjoy their survival and look forward to playing at their new 52,000-seater stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock in 2024-25, which could be their last season at Goodison Park.