Bournemouth were pushed to the brink of relegation from the Premier League as Danny Ings inspired Southampton’s 2-0 win over their south-coast rivals on Sunday.
Ings struck late in the first half at Dean Court before Bournemouth’s Sam Surridge saw his dramatic stoppage-time equaliser disallowed for offside.
Che Adams added Southampton’s second goal with virtually the last kick to leave Bournemouth with nine defeats and only one win from their last 12 league matches.
Eddie Howe’s second-bottom side are three points from safety with just one game left, while their goal difference is four inferior to fourth-bottom Watford.
Bournemouth’s five-year stay in the top-flight will be over if Watford take one point from their last two games against Manchester City and Arsenal.
Watford face City on Tuesday before the final day on July 26 when Bournemouth travel to Everton and the Hornets meet Arsenal.
Ings now has 21 league goals this season, leaving him two behind Leicester’s Jamie Vardy in the race for the golden boot.
The Southampton striker would have been even closer if he hadn’t missed a second-half penalty, but even that reprieve couldn’t save Bournemouth.
Howe had called Southampton’s visit the “biggest game” for Bournemouth in several seasons as they aimed for the two-goal margin of victory that would lift them out of the bottom three.
They started brightly and Lloyd Kelly fired just wide before the unmarked Callum Wilson headed wastefully over.
Josh King saw a penalty appeal rejected by VAR after he was bundled over by Southampton defender Jack Stephens.
For all Bournemouth’s pressure, James Ward-Prowse should have put Southampton in front when he headed straight at Cherries keeper Aaron Ramsdale from a good position.
No side has kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Bournemouth and they cracked again four minutes before half-time.
It seemed there was barely a sight of goal for Ings when Nathan Redmond found him on the edge of the area, but the 27-year-old deftly evaded two defenders before drilling a fine finish into the far corner.
Ings almost made it two with a curling effort just after half-time.
Southampton were given a penalty by VAR in the 59th minute when Harry Wilson blocked Oriol Romeu’s header with his arm.
Ings tried to fool Ramsdale with a stutter-step as he ran up to take the penalty, but his tame shot was too close to the keeper, who saved low to his left.
Chances were at a premium for Bournemouth, but substitute Dominic Solanke had a sight of goal when his shot from an acute angle was well saved by Alex McCarthy.
McCarthy made a fingertip save to keep out Wilson’s curler before Surridge saw his equaliser correctly ruled out by VAR.
In a cruel finish, Adams’ clinical finish in the 98th minute did more damage to the Cherries’ goal difference.