Bolton's 11-year stay in the Premier League has come to an end after being held to a draw at Stoke.
Only a win - and a QPR defeat at Manchester City - would have kept the Trotters up but they fell behind when Jonathan Walters bundled in.
Mark Davies' deflected goal and a cross from namesake Kevin, which snuck past Thomas Sorensen, gave Bolton the lead.
But Walters's goal from the penalty spot, after a foul on Peter Crouch, consigned the Trotters to the drop.
To rub salt in the wound for Bolton, both the goals they conceded were controversial - the first because Walters knocked the ball out of Adam Bogdan's hands and into the net and the second as Crouch appeared to go down very easily under the challenge from the Bolton keeper in follow-up to his own saved shot.
In addition, two injury-time Manchester City goals against 10-man QPR meant a win would have extended Wanderers stay in the top flight.
In truth, much of the damage was done in the final 15 minutes of last week's penultimate round of fixtures, which saw Bolton throw away a two-goal home lead to West Brom while Rangers were snatching a last-gasp 1-0 win over Stoke to leave Bolton fighting against the tide.
The finale of that game illustrated exactly why Bolton faced such grave circumstances heading into this game as a mixture of naivety and ineptitude meant they failed to see out a game that was all-but won.
Fittingly, the game at the Britannia Stadium was a similarly tense rollercoaster of an encounter, in keeping with what has been the most unpredictable of battles at the bottom of the Premier League.
Bolton's top-flight stay ends
Relegation brings to an end an 11-year stay by Bolton in the top flight, which represents the club's longest top-flight stint since the near 30-year stretch from 1935-64.
Bolton looked down and out when Stoke took the lead in the 13th minute as Walters bundled the ball out of the hands of visiting keeper Adam Bogdan and in. It looked to be a foul but referee Chris Foy allowed it to stand, much to the chagrin of Trotters boss Owen Coyle.
A dubious goal it may have been but it gave Stoke a deserved lead following a confident beginning from them and a meek start to such a key fixture from the away side.
However, Bolton battled back and things looked to have turned in their favour just before half-time courtesy of two bizarre goals.
A long goal kick from Bogdan was allowed to reach the Stoke box before home defender Andy Wilkinson struck his attempted clearance straight at Mark Davies and the ball ricocheted into the net to level matters.
Then, a serious misjudgement from Thomas Sorensen allowed Kevin Davies's cross from the right to sneak past him at the near post and put Wanderers in front.
Around the same time, Pablo Zabaleta gave Manchester City the lead over QPR to temporarily lift Bolton out of the drop zone.
The situation changed again in the second half when two QPR goals, either side of Walters' penalty plunged Bolton back into the bottom three.
With their relegation seemingly sealed for good, Bolton lost heart and once a Tim Ream header from a corner was saved by Sorensen they accepted their fate, unprepared for the potential redemption that was to be offered to them in the last few minutes at the Etihad.
- 29 Sorensen
- 04 Huth Booked
- 17 Shawcross
- 20 Upson (Shotton - 64' )
- 28 Wilkinson
- 06 Whelan
- 18 Whitehead
- 26 Etherington
- 10 Fuller (Jerome - 52' )
- 19 Walters
- 25 Crouch
- 01 Begovic
- 30 Shotton
- 39 Woodgate
- 24 Delap
- 40 Palacios
- 09 Jones
- 33 Jerome
- 01 Bogdan
- 12 Knight
- 18 Ricketts Booked
- 25 Boyata
- 32 Ream
- 07 Eagles (Lee - 81' )
- 10 Petrov
- 16 M Davies
- 19 Reo-Coker
- 14 K Davies (Sordell - 83' )
- 17 Klasnic (Ngog - 69' )
- 22 Jaaskelainen
- 03 Alonso
- 27 Lee
- 37 Vela
- 24 Ngog
- 29 Sordell
- 30 Miyaichi
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows his whistle to end the game.90:00 +2:44
Outswinging corner taken by Martin Petrov, Tim Ream takes a shot. Save by Thomas Sorensen.90:00 +2:02
The ball is crossed by Chung-Yong Lee.88:11
Marvin Sordell takes a shot. Corner taken by Chung-Yong Lee. Corner taken right-footed by Chung-Yong Lee from the right by-line, Effort on goal by Martin Petrov from outside the box goes harmlessly over the bar.87:47
Outswinging corner taken by Martin Petrov from the left by-line, save by Thomas Sorensen.86:46
Martin Petrov takes a outswinging corner. Outswinging corner taken by Chung-Yong Lee from the right by-line.85:53
The offside flag is raised against Cameron Jerome. Adam Bogdan takes the free kick.84:35
Direct free kick taken by Martin Petrov.84:35 Booking
Booking Booking for Robert Huth for unsporting behaviour.84:30
Robert Huth concedes a free kick for a foul on David Ngog.82:46
Shot from deep inside the area by Chung-Yong Lee clears the crossbar.82:07 Substitution
Substitution Marvin Sordell comes on in place of Kevin Davies.80:06 Substitution
Substitution (Bolton) makes a substitution, with Chung-Yong Lee coming on for Chris Eagles.78:20
Andy Wilkinson concedes a free kick for a foul on Chris Eagles. Tim Ream takes the free kick.76:54
The assist for the goal came from Peter Crouch.76:54 Goal scored
Goal! - Jonathan Walters - Stoke 2 - 2 Bolton Jonathan Walters scores a power penalty. Stoke 2-2 Bolton.75:50
Adam Bogdan gives away a Penalty for an unfair challenge on Peter Crouch.74:29
Foul by Andy Wilkinson on Chris Eagles, free kick awarded. Martin Petrov produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick.71:37
The ball is sent over by Peter Crouch, save made by Adam Bogdan.70:58
Shot from long range by Kevin Davies misses to the left of the target.
Ryan Shotton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Ngog. Indirect free kick taken by Adam Bogdan.68:30 Substitution
Substitution David Ngog joins the action as a substitute, replacing Ivan Klasnic.65:39
Martin Petrov produces a cross.64:53
Ryan Shotton produces a cross.63:31 Substitution
Substitution (Stoke) makes a substitution, with Ryan Shotton coming on for Matthew Upson.59:50
Shot by Matthew Etherington from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.56:56
Matthew Etherington sends in a cross, clearance by Tim Ream.55:44
The ball is delivered by Martin Petrov, clearance made by Matthew Upson.54:30
Shot from deep inside the area by Ivan Klasnic goes over the bar.52:31
Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Tim Ream.51:07 Substitution
Substitution Cameron Jerome replaces Ricardo Fuller.50:14
Effort from the edge of the area by Martin Petrov goes wide of the right-hand post.49:34
Close range headed effort by Ryan Shawcross misses to the right of the target.48:54
Mark Davies concedes a free kick for a foul on Matthew Etherington. Matthew Etherington restarts play with the free kick.48:21
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Chris Eagles, save by Thomas Sorensen.47:07
Unfair challenge on Mark Davies by Glenn Whelan results in a free kick. Chris Eagles has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.46:10
Free kick awarded for a foul by Peter Crouch on Samuel Ricketts. Indirect free kick taken by Adam Bogdan.45:51
Centre by Matthew Etherington, Tim Ream makes a clearance.45:01
The second half begins.45:00 +2:07 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.45:00 +1:18
Chris Eagles produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the goal.45:00 +0:43
The referee blows for offside against Jonathan Walters. Indirect free kick taken by Adam Bogdan.44:23
The assist for the goal came from Chris Eagles.44:23 Goal scored
Goal! - Kevin Davies - Stoke 1 - 2 Bolton Kevin Davies scores a goal from a long way out to the top right corner of the goal. Stoke 1-2 Bolton.41:15
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Matthew Etherington from the right by-line, Dedryck Boyata manages to make a clearance.40:41
Corner taken by Matthew Etherington, clearance made by Kevin Davies.38:51 Goal scored
Goal! - Mark Davies - Stoke 1 - 1 Bolton A goal is scored by Mark Davies from inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Stoke 1-1 Bolton.37:49
Matthew Upson takes the free kick.37:49 Booking
Booking The referee cautions Samuel Ricketts for unsporting behaviour.37:38
Free kick awarded for a foul by Samuel Ricketts on Dean Whitehead.36:53
Martin Petrov has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.36:38
Samuel Ricketts takes a shot. Save made by Thomas Sorensen.36:17
The ball is swung over by Martin Petrov, clearance made by Andy Wilkinson.33:51
Mark Davies fouled by Ricardo Fuller, the ref awards a free kick. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Martin Petrov, save made by Thomas Sorensen.31:55
Ivan Klasnic takes a shot. Save made by Thomas Sorensen. Corner taken by Martin Petrov from the left by-line, Ryan Shawcross makes a clearance.31:27
Kevin Davies takes a shot.30:46
Peter Crouch takes a shot. Save made by Adam Bogdan.27:10
The ball is swung over by Andy Wilkinson.26:02
Shot by Jonathan Walters from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.25:08
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters by Nigel Reo-Coker. Thomas Sorensen restarts play with the free kick.21:53
Corner taken by Glenn Whelan played to the near post, Tim Ream manages to make a clearance.20:12
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Matthew Etherington from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Tim Ream. Glenn Whelan takes a shot. Blocked by Mark Davies.20:04
Jonathan Walters crosses the ball, Tim Ream gets a block in.16:48
Free kick awarded for a foul by Andy Wilkinson on Kevin Davies. Samuel Ricketts takes the indirect free kick.15:59
Kevin Davies is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.15:15
Ivan Klasnic is ruled offside. Thomas Sorensen takes the indirect free kick.14:18
Chris Eagles takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, Peter Crouch manages to make a clearance.14:04
Martin Petrov sends in a cross, Thomas Sorensen makes a save.12:09
Assist by Matthew Etherington.12:09 Goal scored
Goal! - Jonathan Walters - Stoke 1 - 0 Bolton Goal scored by Jonathan Walters from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Stoke 1-0 Bolton.11:28
Foul by Nigel Reo-Coker on Ricardo Fuller, free kick awarded. Indirect free kick taken by Dean Whitehead.11:02
Matthew Etherington takes a shot. Save by Adam Bogdan.10:27
Peter Crouch has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the target.9:14
Robert Huth challenges Chris Eagles unfairly and gives away a free kick. Nigel Reo-Coker has an effort direct from the free kick.7:35
Free kick awarded for a foul by Matthew Upson on Kevin Davies. Shot comes in from Martin Petrov from the free kick.6:50
Corner taken by Glenn Whelan from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Samuel Ricketts.6:30
Ricardo Fuller takes a shot. Save made by Adam Bogdan.5:57
Glenn Whelan takes a shot. Mark Davies gets a block in.5:10
Chris Eagles takes a shot. Save by Adam Bogdan.4:25
The ball is delivered by Andy Wilkinson, save by Adam Bogdan.3:12
Ricardo Fuller takes a shot. Blocked by Zat Knight.0:48
The ball is delivered by Ricardo Fuller.0:00
The game kicks-off.
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