AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Nottingham Forest
AFC Bournemouth will be a Premier League side next season after edging past Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.
Scott Parker’s side held a three-point advantage over third-placed Forest heading into one of the most eagerly anticipated Championship matches in recent history. And they got the job done to seal the three points that confirm second spot.
A testy encounter at the Vitality Stadium was settled by an 83rd Kieffer Moore goal, who came on as a substitute just before the hour mark.
The visitors had created little in a second half dominated by the Cherries, with Dominic Solanke hitting the side netting while Philip Billing and Jaidon Anthony tested Reds goalkeeper Brice Samba.
When Jordan Zemura was brought down on the edge of the area, Billing appeared to be ready to go direct for goal.
Instead, he spotted Moore free in box to sweep home a goal that propelled the hosts back to the Premier League and sparked a party atmosphere at the Vitality Stadium, which saw ecstatic home fans spill onto the pitch at full-time.
Eight minutes of injury time were given but it wasn’t enough for Forest to get back into it and save any automatic promotion hopes.
As the full-time whistle blew several players dropped to their knees while hundreds of fans invaded the pitch. Flares were let off while most players were smothered by on-rushing spectators.
Scott Parker told Sky Sports: “First and foremost I’m delighted for the fans, and my players. They deserve this position. It means a lot. We never had control in the first-half, and we didn’t want a basketball match. We spoke about control and calm and process. We didn’t execute the game plan and in the second half we showed our dominance.
“This group is a young team, learning their trade in a promotion task. One thing about this group, if we need a result we did deep and find it.”
Midfielder Philip Billing said: “It’s not sunk in yet, it’s unbelievable.
“After last season it [play-offs] was something none of us wanted to do, we’ve worked hard all season, and it’s a great emotion because we put so much work in throughout the whole year. “We’re a fit team and what we’ve shown with this young team is amazing.”
Ryan Christie added: “It’s mad, it’s such a long season and it comes down to one game.
“I’ve not really slept this week. The first-half was emotional. Then we had a moment of magic from Kieffer [Moore] and we’re in the Premier League. We were told to calm down and take the emotion out of it. We brought control second-half and as soon as we got the goal it was about keeping them out.
“That was the longest eight minutes [of added time]. We’ll have a good few days now I’m sure.”
The win means a return to the top flight for the Cherries following a two-year absence after relegation in the pandemic-affected 2019-20 campaign. They fell just short in the play-offs last term but Parker’s appointment in the summer, coupled with some canny additions, have ensured a successful season this time around.
Parker now has two Championship promotions on his CV. He also has bags of Premier League experience as a player. Yet the 41-year-old – who swapped west London for Dorset last summer – has plenty to prove as a top-flight manager. Parker’s Cottagers won just five games en route to suffering relegation last season. His unconvincing overall record reads: played 48, won eight, drawn 13, lost 27.