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Scott Parker hails ‘special group’ as Bournemouth seal return to Premier League

AFC Bournemouth v Nottingham Forest – Sky Bet Championship – Vitality Stadium
(Image credit: John Walton)

Bournemouth boss Scott Parker hailed his “special group” of players after the Cherries beat promotion-rivals Nottingham Forest 1-0 to seal their Premier League return.

Substitute Kieffer Moore came off the bench to grab a dramatic late winner and wrap up the Championship’s second automatic spot at Forest’s expense.

An emotional Parker, who left newly-crowned champions Fulham to join the Cherries last summer, said: “I am very proud of the team and the group of players.

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“I see this group every day from the minute I walk in here. This group are a special group and they deserve their moment, they deserve to be in the Premier League.

“I am excited and pleased we are in the Premier League. We deserve it. Our aim was to get promoted and we have done it.”

Addressing the triumphant Bournemouth fans on the pitch after Moore’s 83rd-minute promotion-clincher, Parker added: “I thought we were incredible in the second half.

“It is part and parcel of the Championship that there will be bumps along the way, but the fans stuck with us and that is why we are in this position and going to the Premier League.

Kieffer Moore celebrates winning promotion

Kieffer Moore’s winner saw Bournemouth win promotion to the Premier League (John Walton/PA)

“The atmosphere was incredible and that probably got us over the line. The fans were our 12th man and that helped us massively.

“I want to say ‘thank you’ to the owner and the people involved in this club.

“I have nothing but the utmost support and that gives me the opportunity to do the best job I can.”

Forest should have taken the lead in the ninth minute when Djed Spence set Sam Surridge through on goal with a sublime defence-splitting pass.

Surridge, a product of Bournemouth’s youth academy, let his former side off the hook by hammering his shot against the crossbar with goalkeeper Mark Travers beaten.

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The home side had a massive let off three minutes before half-time when Travers brought down Surridge inside the 18-yard box, but Travers was saved by the assistant referee’s offside flag, while TV replays showed Surridge had timed his run to perfection.

Bournemouth were the dominant team in the second half and were forced into what proved to be a key change on the hour when midfielder Jefferson Lerma hobbled off to be replaced by striker Moore.

The home side got the goal their efforts deserved seven minutes from time – with Moore taking centre stage.

Jordan Zemura’s mazy run drew a foul on the edge of the penalty area and Philip Billing rolled a free-kick cleverly into the path of Moore, who coolly fired the ball into the far corner.

The home fans spilled onto the pitch at full-time after their side survived eight long minutes of injury time to seal their English top-flight comeback.

Bournemouth manager Scott Parker (left) celebrates with chairman Jeff Mostyn

Scott Parker (left) celebrated with chairman Jeff Mostyn on the pitch (John Walton/PA)

Forest, who needed a win to leapfrog the Cherries in the table, will now have to try to end their 23-year top-flight exile via the play-offs.

Boss Steve Cooper said: “I think we were the better team in the first half but just didn’t take our chances, more due to bad luck.

“It was a big decision from the referee and linesman for the Surridge offside and they have just pulled me into the office to apologise.

“They have held their hands up but we know decisions haven’t really been with us this year.

“It hurts but we have to get over it now and get ready for the play-offs.

“Congratulations to Bournemouth as they get ready for the Premier League and hopefully we can join them.”

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