LONDON: Stoke City’s 10-year stay in the Premier League ended on Saturday as a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace saw them relegated down to the Championship [second division].
In a game Stoke knew they needed to win to stand a chance of remaining in the Premier League, Xherdan Shaqiri had given them hope when he scored his eighth goal of the season with a first-half free kick.
Paul Lambert’s side could not build on that advantage though, and in the second half Palace drew level when James McArthur slotted him in the 68th minute.
With Stoke knowing a draw would also not be enough, they went forward in search of a second goal, but left big gaps at the back and Patrick van Aanholt took advantage with the winner four minutes from time.
The defeat meant that Stoke became the first team to be relegated from the Premier League this season, with bottom side West Brom possibly joining them later on Saturday.
Stoke fans had their head in their hands at the final whistle as it was confirmed the club’s 10-year stay in the division was coming to an end, Lambert having failed to rescue them after replacing the sacked Mark Hughes as manager in January.
The Potters are three points behind 17th-placed Swansea with one game remaining, but the Swans’ midweek fixture against third-bottom Southampton means Lambert’s side cannot escape the drop zone.
Palace, meanwhile, are now mathematically safe to complete the considerable upturn in their fortunes after Roy Hodgson succeeded Frank De Boer early in the campaign.
Ryan Shawcross said: “It’s difficult. Obviously it doesn’t happen in one game, it’s over the whole season.
“There are a lot of things we need to change and do better. Ultimately it’s down to the players. We’ve not been good enough all season.
“Since the gaffer has come in we’ve had a right go in every game. For whatever reason we’ve not got the goals we’ve needed and ultimately that’s cost us.
“We’ve had another right go today but they were very lively on the break and we got hit a couple of times.
“It’s massively disappointing but it’s a great club and we’ll be back.
“The club have got a lot of big decisions to make. If we can keep our better players that’d be brilliant and we’d have a great chance (of promotion).
“Hopefully we can do it. It’s going to be difficult but at the moment we’ve got to let it sink in and come back strong.”
Palace, meanwhile, are now mathematically safe to complete the considerable upturn in their fortunes after Hodgson succeeded Frank De Boer early in the campaign.
Hodgson said: “I’m really proud of our team’s performance, not just today but over the whole season.
“But I feel a lot of empathy for Stoke. It’s a very tough day for them so any joy I feel is measured by looking at the faces of the Stoke City players who really gave everything today.
“Unfortunately they came across a team that wasn’t prepared to lie down and as a result we could profit from the fact they had to win the game and take chances.”
Albion still hoping
West Bromwich kept their faint hopes of survival alive after grabbing a stoppage-time winner against Tottenham at The Hawthorns.
Jake Livermore popped up with the only goal in the second minute of injury time to send the baggies fans crazy as Darren Moore’s remarkable impact since taking charge continued.
After beating Manchester United at Old Trafford and coming from two goals down to draw with Liverpool, Moore’s men made it 11 points from five games with a win over Champions League hopefuls Tottenham.
The surprise defeat for Surs now sees Mauricio Pochettino’s side casting nervous glances over their shoulders as they remain in fourth, a point behind Liverpool, and now five ahead of Chelsea, but with the Blues having a game in hand.
Southampton moved out of the relegation zone with a 1-1 draw at Everton, who scored an equaliser deep in stoppage time.
Southampton could have sent West Brom down with victory at Goodison Park, which looked a realistic prospect after winger Nathan Redmond headed in after 56 minutes.
Defender Maya Yoshida was sent off for a second caution with five minutes left, and the Saints could not hold out as Tom Davies’ deflected shot secured a point for Everton deep into stoppage time.
The point moves Southampton up into 17th on goal difference above Swansea, who they face on Tuesday.
Swansea’s shocking run of form continued as they went an eighth game without a win thanks to a 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth thanks to Ryan Fraser’s first half goal.
The Swans are playing a dangerous game at the bottom as they’re just a point outside the relegation zone with two games left to play – against relegation rivals Southampton and already relegated Stoke.
With Stoke having been condemned to the drop earlier on Saturday, the Swans would have gone a long way to ensuring they do not take one of the remaining two spots by emerging from the Vitality Stadium with the three points, but they were undone by Ryan Fraser’s first-half goal.
Carlos Carvalhal’s men spurned several chances but their failings in front of goal meant they remained very much in the mire.
For Bournemouth it was a first win in six games and ensured they will definitely have a fourth successive season in the top flight.
West Ham moved clear of danger with a 2-0 win at Leicester City, who look like a team firmly looking forward to their summer holidays as the season comes to a close.
Joao Mario gave David Moyes’ side the lead just after the half hour mark, and th home side rarely looked like getting back into the game before skipper secured the three points with the second goal just after the hour.
Claude Puel’s side went into the match having won just twice in their last 11 Premier League games, and the absence of nine players through injury and suspension did nothing to help Leicester, whose performance, on a hot afternoon, was lukewarm at best.
The win moved David Moyes’ team six points clear of the bottom three and put a three-point cushion between Swansea and Huddersfield immediately below them.
Roberto Pereyra and Andre Gray’s goals eased pressure on manager Javi Gracia as Watford ended a seven-match winless run by dispatching Newcastle 2-1.
Fit-again captain Troy Deeney missed a penalty, with Magpies keeper Martin Dubravka making a fine double save, while Ayoze Perez’s impressive finish came to nought for the visitors.
Former Malaga boss Gracia has already admitted he does not know whether he will still be Watford coach next season, given the Hornets’ revolving door managerial policy.
Gracia only arrived in January, to become Watford’s eighth manager in five years – but an 18-month contract carries precious little security.
The 48-year-old received a stirring show of support from his squad on Saturday however, as the Hornets held on for victory in their final Premier League home game of the season.
In Europe . . .
In Italy Juventus fell behind to a first-half penalty before scoring three times after the break to beat Bologna 3-1 and close in on their seventh successive Serie A title while Porto won Portugal’s Primeira Liga in their first season under coach Sergio Conceicao after a goalless draw between Sporting and Benfica ended both teams’ chances of catching them.
In Spain Valencia’s place in next season’s Champions League was confirmed when fifth-placed Real Betis were defeated 2-0 by Athletic Bilbao while, in Germany, Hamburg, in danger of losing their record as the only ever-present team in the Bundesliga’s 55-year-history, lost 3-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt but were given a stay of execution after rivals VfL Wolfsburg were also beaten.