Sunderland 0-1 Bournemouth: Thousands stay away as relegation confirmed on painfully flat afternoon

King's goal confirmed Sunderland's relegation
King's goal confirmed Sunderland's relegation
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It ended with a whimper.

Appropriate, given the desperate performances in 2017.

The mood did not turn as toxic as it could have, Sunderland improved slightly from the Riverside horror show on Wednesday night for the most part.

That owed much, too, to the swathes of empty seats as thousands stayed away to watch the last rites cast on Sunderland's Premier League tenure.

A familiar tale, as a lack of quality in front of goal was punished by a sucker punch on the counter, Josh King sweeping home from close range.

A penalty for Southampton looked like it could see Sunderland limp on for another week, but in keeping with their quite miraculous revival, it was saved to send the Black Cats into the abyss.

Few stayed to see the final whistle blown, but those who did roared 'we want Moyesy out'.

The Sunderland manager disappeared down the tunnel, as the South Stand cheered for an emotional Jordan Pickford.

After the anger at the Riverside, it was clear that apathy was the prevalent mood of the day. Dance of the Knights rang out as normal but all was quiet otherwise, red seats visible all around the ground.

The atmosphere was flat, as Bournemouth forced a flurry of early corners, Josh King forcing an early but comfortable save from Jordan Pickford.

The Cherries were seeing by far the most of the ball throughout the first half, but looked vulnerable to early and direct moves from the Black Cats. Fabio Borini, whose first touches were met with sporadic boos before his name was audibly chanted, stung Artur Boruc's palms with an effort from distance, Jermain Defoe slipping as he looked to shoot on the follow up.

Defoe's lack of form was telling throughout the half, struggling to link with Anichebe and not quite able to take his chances.

He fired over after good work from Ndong and Khazri down the left, sparking a frenetic passage of play. King coasted through on the Sunderland goal unopposed, leaving Pickford rooted to the spot with a fine chipped effort that hit the bar and the post. Pickford gathered and released Defoe with a superb kick out of hand, but the 34-year-old couldn't find Anichebe with his cross into the box.

The finest chance of the half to Defoe just before the half hour mark. The ball broke loose after patient Sunderland build up, Ndong heading back towards goal. Defoe was free six yards out but volleyed straight at Boruc.

Bournemouth continued to threaten sporadically, Josh King seeing a shot from ten yards cleared off the line by Donald Love.

It was a half in which neither side were ever in control, some neat attacking moves sporadically breaking up a lot of basic errors. The game reflected the prevailing atmosphere, flat, lacking intensity.

The end-to-end feel continued in the second half, Marc Pugh cutting inside and firing wide of the far post from a narrow angle. Minutes later a fine block tackle from Didier Ndong allowed Sunderland to break, Defoe finding Borini with a perfect pass. The Italian got a firm shot away but it was a comfortable height for Boruc to palm clear. Ryan Fraser broke into the box at the other end but his left foot shot was weak and easy for Pickford to gather.

David Moyes introduced George Honeyman for Steven Pienaar, the South African sloppy in possession and off the pace for the most part. The Black Cats almost took the lead moments before when an excellent Khazri cross was headed wide at the back post by Lamine Kone.

Honeyman came close from a Sunderland counter, Defoe surging clear and avoiding a cynical Bournemouth tackle. He found Borini whose clever reverse pass saw the youngster in on goal. He forced another save from Boruc but the Polish stopper was able to palm clear again.

Bournemouth themselves were threatening only sporadically, Marc Pugh heading over at the back after a swing cross from the right hand touchline.

The game was largely drifting until a terrible late challenge from Fabio Borini sparked a melee that involved every player on the pitch apart from Jordan Pickford. Referee Stuart Atwell managed the situation sensibly, Borini shown a yellow and Arter the same for his reaction, confronting an apologetic Borini.

That melee did spark some life into both the game and the crowd, Donald Love and Jermain Defoe both going close as the home side finished the stronger.

Yet it was hard not to think of Bournemouth left-back Charlie Daniels, racing around the pitch in just one boot, as the defining image of a poor game.

Sunderland, in the end, were not good enough even to get something out of this tepid encounter, Josh King turning home and ending a season of utter misery.