By Sedara Philip
Southampton’s 11-year stay in the Premier League ended in tame fashion as their relegation was confirmed with defeat at home by Fulham.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, making his return from an eight-game ban for pushing referee Chris Kavanagh, sealed Saints’ fate with a stooping header after Carlos Vinicius’ opener.
The hosts could have few complaints about the outcome after producing a muted performance despite knowing they had to win to have any chance of pulling off an unlikely survival mission.
They did have a Carlos Alcaraz strike disallowed for a marginal offside just before Vinicius broke the deadlock but the confident Cottagers were comfortably the better side.
Willian’s first-half volley was cleared off the line by fellow Brazilian Lyanco, who had earlier been fortunate to escape a video assistant referee’s penalty check for handball.
But Vinicius tucked home after Lyanco’s clearance ricocheted to him kindly off Harrison Reed and Mitrovic nodded in his 12th league goal of the season from Harry Wilson’s cross.
Southampton, lethargic throughout, had no response after falling behind and will be playing Championship football next season for the first time since 2012.