Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce immediately switched his focus to evolving the Black Cats into a Premier League force after demolishing Everton to secure their top-flight status and relegate bitter rivals Newcastle and Norwich.
A free-kick from former Chelsea full-back Patrick van Aanholt set the hosts on their way before a double from an unlikely source, centre-half Lamine Kone, ensured a 10th consecutive season of first tier football for Sunderland.
Norwich’s demotion to the Championship was confirmed despite a spirited 4-2 win over Watford, while Allardyce – sacked as Newcastle manager in January 2008 – maintained his record of never being relegated from the Premier League.
“We’ve just secured the financial side of being in the Premier League, which is so important this season,” said Allardyce. “What that gives us in terms of spending power is the same as everybody else, so it’s how wisely we spend it.
“What do we do to find the players we need like we got in January, because their contribution has been really big? The next set of recruitment is crucial because this football club cannot be cheering and doing a lap of honour for avoiding relegation anymore.”
Striker Jermain Defoe, who failed to find the net last night but whose 15 league goals have been crucial to Sunderland’s resurgence, was keen to highlight the impact of Allardyce since his appointment in October – the Wearsiders were second-bottom and winless after eight matches.
“He has been there and done it. He is a top manager and away from the pitch he is a great man. We are all delighted,” said Defoe.
Sunderland opened the scoring on 39 minutes when a central Van Aanholt free-kick pierced a flimsy Everton wall and outfoxed goalkeeper Joel Robles, who incorrectly anticipated the ball’s trajectory.
It took the Black Cats a further three minutes to move within touching distance of safety as Kone ferociously lashed an effort high into the roof of the net from six yards after Everton tried in vain to clear a Wahbi Khazri corner.
Kone found the net again shortly before the hour mark when he slammed home from close range after Robles palmed away a goal-bound corner from underneath his crossbar, heaping further pressure on beleaguered Everton boss Roberto Martinez.
Norwich, meanwhile, suffered the ignominy of relegation on a night when they thumped Watford at Carrow Road to end a run of four straight defeats.
Skipper Troy Deeney fired the Hornets in front before Norwich replied with goals from Nathan Redmond, Dieumerci Mbokani and a Craig Cathcart own goal. Odion Ighalo pulled a goal back for the visitors shortly after half-time only for Mbokani to net his second.