Stoke City were relegated from the English Premier League on Saturday after their dismal season culminated in them giving up a first-half lead against Crystal Palace.
They succumbed to a deserved 1-2 defeat for 30 points from 37 games.
The Potters had to win to give themselves the faintest hope of maintaining their 10-year stay in the top tier of the English game.
But Paul Lambert’s ailing side, who have not won in 13 league matches, went down to a late Patrick van Aanholt goal.
Xherdan Shaqiri had given Stoke City hope with a deflected 43rd- minute free kick, only for James McArthur to equalise midway through the second half after a slick counter-attack.
Then, as Crystal Palace piled on the pressure, Van Aanholt struck four minutes from time as Stoke City’s worst run in the top flight for 34 years sealed their fate.
The loss meant Roy Hodgson’s resurgent Crystal Palace could celebrate another year of English Premier League football.
A crestfallen Ryan Shawcross, Stoke’s captain whose late mistake led to Van Aanholt’s goal, admitted his team had not been good enough all season.
“We’ve had a right go every single game (under Lambert) but for whatever reason, we haven’t got the goals we needed and ultimately it’s cost us,” he said.
“It’s difficult to take but it’s a great club this and we’ll be back.”
With Crystal Palace not at their sharpest in a nervy opening half, it took the quality of Shaqiri to break the deadlock as he began a promising move with a fine cross-field ball.
He then tempted Ruben Loftus-Cheek into a clumsy challenge 23 metres out.
The Swiss international’s curled free kick took a slight diversion off Loftus-Cheek in the Crystal Palace wall to give Stoke a lifeline.
Yet the home side increasingly retreated as Crystal Palace began to swarm over them after the interval.
McArthur, overlapping on the left, slotted home an excellent left-footed finish after the visitors broke from deep in their own half.
A draw would not realistically have been enough to save Stoke City but their fate was sealed with Shawcross’ mistake.
Trying to clear his lines, he diverted the ball straight into the path of the charging full back Van Aanholt.
“The goal was my fault. Sometimes you make mistakes and they cost you,” said Shawcross.
The win sealed Crystal Palace’s safety, a remarkable achievement for former England manager Hodgson.
He had to pull off a considerable feat of escapology after the Eagles’ desperate start to the season under Frank de Boer.(Reuters/NAN)
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