Missed chances vs. Bournemouth see Sunderland's relegation fate sealed
With more than a hint of merciful release, Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League was confirmed as a late Bournemouth winner, combined with Hull's draw at Southampton, sealed the fate of David Moyes' side. An abysmal season reached its logical conclusion even if this was a game in which, for once, Sunderland created chances. But no goals came as a result and so came to an end Sunderland's 10 consecutive seasons in the top flight.
The result hardly flattered Bournemouth, who moved the ball more smoothly and dominated possession. And, crucially, they showed effective, uncomplicated precision when defender Lamine Kone's poor forward ball was easily cut out to launch an 89th-minute move that led to Joshua King's simple finish.
Sunderland have played much worse this season but once again proved inadequate at key moments and supporters will feel entitled to wonder why there has been so little of the spark that enabled Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce to pull off remarkable escapes in seasons' past.
If Moyes, deeply unpopular at the Stadium of Light, is allowed to remain in charge, he will win fans over only if Sunderland make a winning start to life in the Championship. But he knows many supporters feel he should not be given the chance.
Sunderland created more chances in one game than in several earlier ones combined, with Victor Anichebe a constant worry for Bournemouth.
The usual: An inability to score and defensive and midfield weaknesses. Just two goals scored since the freak 4-0 win at Crystal Palace on Feb. 4 tells its own sad story.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- Moyes finally and refreshingly played 4-4-2 with Anichebe offering support to Jermain Defoe but, yet again, the manager presided over a team performance that fell far short of what is required to stay in the Premier League.
Players' ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating).
GK Jordan Pickford, 6 --.Made good saves, distributed well on the whole and had no chance with the goal.
DF Donald Love, 4 -- Nervous from the start, mixing weak defending, poor touch and unconvincing passing, all of which were somewhat mitigated by a long absence from first-team action. He also probably had Sunderland's best effort on target.
DF John O'Shea, 5 -- Not the dominant figure he once was in the heart of defence.
DF Lamine Kone, 4 -- Never wholly convincing and at fault for a dreadful pass that prompted the move leading to Bournemouth's winner.
DF Javier Manquillo, 5 -- Occasionally moved forward purposefully but otherwise offered a pedestrian display.
MF Didier Ndong, 7 -- Struggled to cope with Bournemouth's stronger, livelier midfield in early stages but grew in stature, won the ball well and figured in many of Sunderland's more promising moves.
MF Steven Pienaar, 5 -- Like Ndong, he was overrun in the first 30 minutes. Unlike Ndong, any subsequent improvement was less obvious and he lasted less than an hour.
MF Fabio Borini, 6 -- Involved in some useful forward play and provided occasional telling passes but lacked any sort of sharpness in front of goal.
MF Wahbi Khazri, 6 -- Another robust performance, if ultimately lacking end product, to challenge Moyes' inexplicable refusal to play him for most of the season.
FW Victor Anichebe, 6 -- Much more comfortable alongside Defoe than when consigned to the wing, but he was also unable to produce a killer touch.
FW Jermain Defoe, 6 -- A decent second half, in which he was moderately unlucky not to score, made up for a lacklustre first period that was littered with bad choices.
MF George Honeyman, 5 -- Showed determination and desire but no finesse. Should have passed to Defoe when set up by Borini but, instead, went for glory from a difficult position.
Colin is ESPN FC's Sunderland blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @salutsunderland