Stoke City were relegated from the Premier League after falling to a 2-1 defeat against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The devastating result leaves the Potters second bottom, three points from safety, with only one game remaining.
Xherdan Shaqiri had described the Palace clash as “a war we have to win” and the Stoke star landed the first blow in the 43rd minute with a deflected free-kick that curled past Palace goalie Wayne Hennessey.
But Stoke’s nerves were still frayed, and they couldn’t cling onto their lead and Palace midfielder James McArthur equalised with a clinical finish in the 68th minute.
Forced to throw men forward in search of a winner, Lambert’s side were carved open in the 86th minute as van Aanholt slotted home to seal Stoke’s fate.
With fourth-bottom Swansea and third-bottom Southampton playing each other in midweek, it is impossible for Stoke to collect enough points to avoid dropping to the Championship after a 10-year stay in the elite division.
There were heart-wrenching scenes at the bet365 stadium in the closing minutes, with some of the fans left singing “City til I die” in a defiant rallying cry.
Speaking after the game, club captain Ryan Shawcross conceded the players had only themselves to blame.
“It’s difficult obviously but it’s not just about one game. It’s over a season and we’ve not been good enough all season,” he said.
“Ultimately it’s down to the players. Since the gaffer has come in we’ve had a right go and been in every game.
“For whatever reason we’ve not got the goals we needed and that cost us.”
Blames will also be apportioned to managers Paul Lambert and Mark Hughes, who was sacked in January after a wretched run culminated with an embarrassing FA Cup third round defeat against fourth tier Coventry.
Hughes could suffer the indignity of having a role in two relegations in one season as his Southampton side remain in dire straits ahead of their trip to Everton on Sunday.