Leicester’s fairy tale over, Everton stay in EPL
LEICESTER, England (AP):
Seven years after the most improbable Premier League title triumph of all, Leicester were relegated from English football’s top division yesterday while Everton pulled off another last-day escape to extend its 69-year stay.
Leeds was also consigned to the drop with Leicester and already-relegated Southampton as the league season reached its conclusion.
Everton’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth meant Leicester’s 2-1 victory against West Ham was ultimately meaningless. Leeds’ miserable campaign ended in a 4-1 loss at home against Tottenham.
Leicester’s demise stands out because of the dramatic nature of their fall after experiencing the most spectacular period in their history in recent years.
By winning the title as a 5,000-1 shot in 2016, they provided the Premier League with its greatest fairy tale - being crowned champions in only their second season after being promoted from the second tier
Just two years ago they celebrated victory against Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, a period that also saw it achieve back-to-back fifth-place finishes.
Relegation was not seen as a realistic threat this season, even after a summer in which Leicester failed to make major moves in the transfer market.
In the Premier League, however, fairy tales do not guarantee happily-ever-after endings and Leicester now face an uncertain future with interim manager Dean Smith out of contract and a host of their star players likely to leave in the summer.
“The Premier League is where everybody wants to be playing,” Smith said afterwards, “It feels raw now, it hurts and everybody will be devastated. But with the infrastructure they have they will bounce back.”
While those words were encouraging, there is no guarantee that Leicester will be back in the top flight any time soon.
Top players like James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes could all depart and will have suitors from leading clubs.
While it was a day of anguish for Leicester, Everton were celebrating once again as the league’s great survivor.
Having been in the top division since 1954, they pulled off another great escape, having avoided relegation on the final day of the season in both 1994 and 1998 previously.
The Merseyside club, which only narrowly avoided the drop last year, took it to the wire yet again this season.
Abdoulaye Doucouré smashed home a 57th-minute goal to earn the win that sparked jubilant scenes at Goodison.
Everton’s fate was always in its own hands, starting the day in 17th place, two points above Leicester and Leeds.
It is a triumph for manager Sean Dyche, who was hired in January and tasked with the job of turning the club’s season around. Leeds and Southampton were also relegated.
UNITED FINISH THIRD
Two cup finals and now a third-place finish in the Premier League. For Erik ten Hag, it has been a strong first season at Manchester United.
United rallied to beat Fulham 2-1 thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes to move above Newcastle into third place on the last day. Newcastle could only draw 1-1 at Chelsea.
Other results: Arsenal 5 Wolves 0; Aston Villa 2 Brighton 1; Crystal Palace 1 Nottingham Forest 1; Leeds1 Tottenham 4; Southampton 4 Liverpool 4.