David Moyes celebrated a “huge achievement” after West Ham clinched a place in the Europa League with a 3-0 victory over Southampton.
Two goals from Pablo Fornals and a third from Declan Rice made it a club record 19th Premier League win of the season for the Hammers, and a first top-six finish this century.
A maiden appearance in the group stages of the Europa League now beckons for a side tipped to struggle again at the start of the season.
“Get your vaccines, get your passports, we’re going to Europe,” was jubilant Moyes’ message to the 10,000 fans back in attendance at the London Stadium.
Afterwards Moyes said: “It’s a huge achievement from where we came from, To jump this far is absolutely huge.
“I think there’s signs West Ham are beginning to pull together. We walked around the pitch last season having just stayed up and people said that was a success!
“I hope we enjoyed what we felt today, being in a big game that meant something. It’s been a tough year in football but overall it’s been a good year for us.”
West Ham went ahead when Jarrod Bowen raced onto Michail Antonio’s header and shot across goal.
Saints keeper Alex McCarthy could only palm the ball out to the feet of Fornals, who smashed home the rebound.
Two minutes later the hosts were two ahead, Fornals again the man in the right place to turn in a low cross from full-back Vladimir Coufal.
A fitting third arrived five minutes from time when Rice, who has captained West Ham superbly this season, strode forward and fired home.
Moyes’ attention will now turn to building a squad able to manage the Thursday-Sunday slog that comes with the Europa League.
One player he hopes to add permanently is Jesse Lingard following the end of the forward’s successful loan spell from Manchester United.
“I hope Jesse’s here, we’d like to keep him, he’s done an exceptional job for us but there’s no guarantees, he’s not our player,” added Moyes.
“But I hope Jesse realises we’ve been good for him as well, and that he joined a club on the up.”
It was an underwhelming end to a streaky season for Southampton, a 15th defeat from their last 21 matches meaning a 15th-placed finish with an unwanted club record of 69 goals conceded in a single Premier League campaign.
“In the second half of this season we haven’t been good enough and that’s why we ended up where we ended up. The table doesn’t lie,” said manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“When you concede the second most goals in the Premier League you know what is missing. That’s what needs to change, either with these players or other players.”