Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s diving header five minutes from time extended Everton’s proud stay in the top flight to 69 years with a 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace on a night for the ages at Goodison Park.
Needing a victory to make themselves safe and avoid an awkward last-day trip to top-four-chasing Arsenal, the situation looked bleak when they went 2-0 down inside 36 minutes.
But manager Frank Lampard’s tactical changes, plus the sheer emotion and force of a raucous crowd, dramatically turned things around in the second half as first Michael Keane and then Richarlison, with his sixth in nine games, teed up a rousing finale.
And with the stage set, Calvert-Lewin – fresh from scoring his first goal since August in Saturday’s defeat to Brentford – launched himself at a free-kick and watched as the Gwladys Street End behind the goal exploded, followed by the rest of the ground.
Lampard was at the centre of the celebrations as he hugged chairman Bill Kenwright after the game and his emotion was close to teh surface as he summed up his mood.
"It is one of the greatest moments of my footballing life and career," declared Premier League legend Lampard.
"I have been very fortunate to have amazing times, especially at Chelsea as a player and a coach. But when you feel the feelings and desperation of what relegation brings to the table, it is different. You need to dig in. You lose games, you fight to do something and then you lose another game.
"People think you should fly up the table and it is never that way. Coming in here three and a half months ago with my amazing staff, positive people who work so hard, and trying to affect things and getting a reaction from the players, from the fans and feeling unity when it looked split. This club is special and I am proud to be manager of Everton on this night.
"I thought I might cry at the end. I thought I might jump out of my body. Nobody can question the celebrations at the end. It is easy to say 'but you haven't won anything'.
"You know what, come and work at this club for a few months and see the difficulties and what it means to people to stay in this league. See us 2-0 down at half-time, playing poorly, ridiculous second goal and then see the character they showed. See the fans on the pitch in good heart and spirit.
"They have pulled us over the line, they have been more than a 12th man. But the players also deserve huge credit. An amazing night."
The final relegation place in the Premier League is now a straight fight between Leeds and Burnley, with the Clarets only needing to match their opponents result at Brentford when they take on Newcastle to secure survival.