Norwich boss Daniel Farke admitted Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Brighton had been their last chance to remain in the mix for Premier League survival.
After four defeats from four since football resumed, the Canaries needed a victory at home to the Seagulls, but lost due to Leandro Trossard’s 25th-minute strike.
Last season’s Sky Bet Championship winners had plenty of possession and yet struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities of note before substitute Adam Idah headed against the post deep in stoppage time.
The loss left Norwich rooted to the bottom and with only five games left, their time in the top-flight is almost over.
Farke said: “It’s a tough day for us and we are all disappointed because we knew it was more or less a last chance today to be back in the mix with a good result.
“We are not relegated, but we all knew it was our last chance and of course we are disappointed with the outcome.
“Also for the development of the many young players and the club, it is important to feel this pain.
“I want my players after the game to be devastated if the outcome is not there because it is important for them to have this and value the good moments. We are unbelievably disappointed, it’s a tough day.”
The Norwich team collapsed to the floor at full-time and Todd Cantwell did not leave the pitch for 10 minutes, but he was a surprise substitute along with top goalscorer Teemu Pukki for this must-win fixture.
Farke eventually introduced the pair with 23 minutes left and while they were unable to force an equaliser, the German defended his decision to put them on the bench.
“I am totally happy with Todd’s development and his performances during the season, but we also have to be realistic,” the 43-year-old added.
“It was a good game against Man United (in the FA Cup) for example and in the spotlight with the goal, but let’s be honest in the last 12 league games he has no goals or assists so it’s not like we can’t win a game without Todd Cantwell.
“To be honest it’s the same for Teemu Pukki. I always back him, but in the last (few) games it was not like he won the games all alone for us.”
While Norwich were dejected when Stuart Attwell brought the match to an end, the Brighton bench celebrated loudly with this victory surely enough to secure their Premier League status for another campaign.
It also saw them move on to 36 points, which was the same total they achieved last season, ahead of home matches with Liverpool and Manchester City next week.
Seagulls manager Graham Potter insisted: “No I don’t think it makes us safe. It a huge win for us and a hard-fought three points.
“We all knew the importance with Liverpool and City up next, but whatever history says, it doesn’t matter. We are in a unique season and we need to keep fighting until the end.
“There are aspects of our performance that we are not so happy with, but there are times in the season where you have to just take the results.
“Before any game, I say we need to play well, run hard and get a bit of luck and we got that at the end.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.