Superb Doucoure Strike Secures Everton's Safety

Abdoulaye Doucoure's magnificent strike secured a 1-0 win over Bournemouth and Everton's Premier League survival on a dramatic final day of the 2022/23 season.

Pressure was piled on to the Toffees after Leicester City took a 34th-minute lead in their home clash with West Ham United, meaning the Foxes momentarily leapfrogged their way out of the drop zone at Everton's expense. 

But Doucoure's superb effort just before the hour mark ensured the Club will extend their stay in the country's highest division into a 70th consecutive campaign, having spent only four seasons outside of the top flight since the English Football League was founded in 1888.

Manager Sean Dyche made two changes - both enforced - from the side that drew 1-1 at Wolves last time out, with Demarai Gray and Conor Coady recalled to the starting line-up in place of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Nathan Patterson, who both missed out with hamstring injuries.

Vitalii Mykolenko was also unavailable, missing a third consecutive game after sustaining a thigh problem in training, and those injuries forced the Blues boss into a change of formation, with Dwight McNeil and Alex Iwobi deployed as wing-backs.

As expected, a raucous sold-out Goodison crowd were in their seats early to create a hostile atmosphere, with the volume cranked up shortly before kick-off as Spirit of the Blues and Grand Old Team blared out on the PA system.

Bournemouth won the pre-match coin toss and opted to switch the teams before kick off, meaning Everton would attack the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End in the first half.

It was the Toffees who started on the front foot during a tense opening quarter of an hour, with every Bournemouth touch loudly jeered by the home crowd.

Smart work from Gray inside the penalty area earned the hosts their first corner of the contest after his attempted cross was deflected behind by Marcos Senesi.

The resulting delivery was cleared at the near post by Dominic Solanke but only as far as Gray, whose rasping first-time effort rose narrowly over the crossbar.

McNeil, once again tasked with providing ammunition from his deeper role, was linking well with Alex Iwobi down Everton's left and the former's deep cross produced an opportunity for Amadou Onana on 23 minutes, but the towering Belgian's header was never troubling Mark Travers in the Bournemouth goal.

The Bournemouth goalkeeper was called into action eight minutes later, though, reacting excellently to tip Idrissa Gana Gueye's goal-bound strike around the post after being played in by Onana.

Everton had strong appeals for a penalty - one of several in the opening period - waved away when Gana was bundled over inside the penalty area, before frustration turned to tension as news filtered through to Merseyside that Harvey Barnes had put Leicester ahead at the King Power Stadium.

Bournemouth's first opportunity came via a corner seven minutes before the interval, as David Brooks' skewed effort fell fortunately for Dango Ouattara, who twisted and turned to work himself a yard of space before prodding across goal and out for a goal kick.

The Cherries went close again moments later after pinching possession high up the pitch but Yerry Mina was on hand to provide a crucial block at the vital moment to deny Dominic Solanke.

Six minutes into the second half, a diagonal ball into Bournemouth's penalty area was nodded down by Mina and eventually headed towards goal by Gray, but the stand-in striker could not get enough purchase on his effort to put it either side of the goalkeeper, who scooped the ball around the post for a corner.

Then came the moment Goodison was waiting for.

Another delivery into the penalty area was challenged by Onana and as the ball bounced kindly 20 yards from goal, Doucoure was steaming in to deliver a fantastic first-time strike into the corner with Travers rooted to the spot.

Leicester doubled their lead against West Ham through Wout Faes, increasing the pressure on Dyche's men.

But Everton defended resolutely and restricted their opponents to little in the way of clear chances.

Pickford's most significant contribution of the contest came four minutes into second-half stoppage time, firmly parrying away Matias Vina's 20-yard drive after a knock-down from fellow substitute Kieffer Moore.

Then, after 100 minutes of action, referee Stuart Attwell blew his whistle to confirm Everton's safety and spark scenes of jubilation in L4.