Eddie Howe claimed he was “devastated” after a battling 2-1 defeat at Manchester City pushed his Bournemouth side closer to relegation.
The Cherries produced a spirited performance at the Etihad Stadium but fell short despite a late David Brooks goal in a rousing finish.
The result left the Cherries 18th in the Premier League, three points off safety and having played a game more than West Ham and Watford above them.
Howe said: “It is not about performance at this stage of the season because we want results but I can’t fault the lads for today.
“We were in it right to the end. The lads gave it everything right to the last kick.
“We certainly looked a real threat in front of goal, there was a lot of quality in our performance.
“We played at the right times and mixed it up well. I’m just absolutely devastated to come away with nothing after putting so much into the game.”
After five years in the top flight, Howe’s side now need a dramatic change in fortunes to survive.
We played at the right times and mixed it up well. I'm just absolutely devastated to come away with nothing after putting so much into the gameEddie Howe
They host Southampton at the weekend before travelling to Everton for their final match.
Howe said: “We have to look for two wins. We can’t prepare any other way. We go next game, Southampton, and try to win it. We’ll be looking to match and better the performance we gave here.”
Bournemouth went close when Junior Stansislas had a free-kick pushed onto the post and Josh King had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside before Brooks gave them late hope in the 88th minute.
Yet ultimately City had the quality when it really mattered with David Silva’s sixth-minute free-kick and a fine strike from Gabriel Jesus six minutes before half-time proving decisive.
Silva, a day after the 10th anniversary of his signing for City, was particularly impressive. The Spaniard, 34, is leaving the club at the end of the season and appears determined to end on a high.
Manager Pep Guardiola said: “He’s been in incredible top form since we came back from the lockdown.
“He played another exceptional game and scored again, two times in a row a fantastic goal.”
Guardiola admitted there seemed little chance of the club could persuading him to extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium.
He said: “He has decided to leave, he has said many times. I think he wants to finish after 10 seasons here.
“Hopefully he comes back for a farewell game that he more than deserves and he can find a place for the last years of his career.”
Secure in second place, there was nothing riding on the game for City, who have an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at the weekend to prepare for.
Guardiola felt Bournemouth had made it tough.
He said: “It was a really difficult game, they played really well. We could not control them.
“We started well in the first 10-15 minutes of the second half but then we had a problem in our build-up.
“We struggled and their high pressing was so good, so it was a difficult game.”