July 19, 2020 / 4:40 PM / 19 days ago

Howe urges Bournemouth to keep believing despite defeat

Soccer Football - Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Southampton - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - July 19, 2020 Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Ian Walton

BOURNEMOUTH, England (Reuters) - Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe urged his team to keep believing they can avoid relegation even after a 2-0 home loss to south-coast rivals Southampton in their penultimate game of the season on Sunday saw them slip to second bottom in the Premier League.

Extending their five-year stay in the Premier League now depends on other results going their way but Howe said that “while there is still hope, we have to believe.

“You never know in football. That’s my immediate thought,” he told a news conference after the defeat left Bournemouth on 31 points from 37 games, three points behind Watford who are just above the relegation zone in 17th with a game in hand.

The Cherries must now win at Everton on the last day of the season and hope Watford lose their final two games to have any chance of staying up. British media reported that Watford had fired manager Nigel Pearson on Sunday.

“I have no opinion. I have no idea if it will affect them,” Howe said when asked about the reported sacking with Watford at home to Manchester City on Tuesday and away at Arsenal next Sunday in their last two outings.

“A big chunk of our destiny was still in our hands today, but it feels like that has slipped away a little bit,” he added.

“We had a detailed game plan. It could have finished a very different scoreline with the chances we had, but the ball just didn’t seem to bounce the right way for us.”

Bournemouth saw two VAR decisions go against them — first when Harry Wilson gave away a penalty and then when a potential last-gasp equaliser from substitute Sam Surridge was ruled out for offside.

“It’s incredibly difficult. It hasn’t only happened to us, but it feels like we have been on the end of a few calls that have gone against us,” Howe added.

Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris

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