Crystal Palace cruised to a 2-0 victory over strugglers Bournemouth on Saturday evening, leaving the Cherries marooned in the Premier League's relegation zone following a dismal display.
Palace took the lead inside 12 minutes when Luka Milivojevic bent a stunning free-kick into the top corner to inflict the worst possible start upon the Cherries. The hosts' woes were doubled ten minutes later as the Eagles cut through the Bournemouth backline with ease, allowing Jordan Ayew to provide the calm finish from an excellent Patrick van Aanholt cutback.
The visitors rode their luck at the beginning of the second half, with Gary Cahill fortunate to escape a red card for a late and reckless challenge on Josh King. Bournemouth continued to toil away with little sign of a breakthrough, struggling to work Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal for the entire 90 minutes.
Eddie Howe's side failed to find the net and the final whistle brought an end to their miserable evening, leaving the Cherries bang in trouble at the bottom, and Palace rising to ninth in the table.
Key Talking Point
We all know that Bournemouth's main problems lie at the back, but their surprising lack of goals has been at the root of their relegation fears this season. All eyes were on King and Callum Wilson to see if they could recapture the form which has kept the Cherries afloat in recent seasons. Unfortunately, their lack of cutting edge came back to haunt them once again.
Bournemouth are crying out for a creative midfielder. Look absolutely dead and buried.— Leanne Prescott (@_lfcleanne) June 20, 2020
But in fairness, the two forwards never really stood a chance. The duo were forced into carving out half-chances of their own from early on, with King often picking the ball up from wide and trying speculative long-range efforts. Their problems only worsened when the leaky defence shipped two early goals, and Bournemouth dropped deeper and deeper, unable to impose themselves on the match.
Minutes into the second half, the Cherries' hopes went up in smoke. King was on the receiving end of a nasty Cahill challenge and was forced to limp down the tunnel, unable to continue. If that's his season over, then it may well be the end of Bournemouth's aspirations, too.
Starting XI: Ramsdale (6); Smith (5), Ake (6), S. Cook (5) Stacey (5); Lerma (7), L. Cook (5), H. Wilson (5), Brooks (6); King (6), C. Wilson (6).
Substitutes: Danjuma (6), Solanke (5), Stanislas (6).
This guy deserves a bit of help in that midfield, right?
Jefferson Lerma will not be sticking around at the Vitality Stadium for much longer - he's far too good for this group of players. The Colombian shielded the Cherries' backline to the best of his ability, but with little support in front of him and a constantly-creaking defence behind him, he was fighting a losing battle.
When presented with the opportunity to get on the ball, Lerma demonstrated the ease at which he could glide beyond players and use his frightening and brutish strength to power up the pitch. Ultimately, his efforts were in vain, as even his tough tackling and relentless drive were not enough to inspire his teammates.
Tough times at the bottom.
Key Talking Point
Europe calling, anyone? While the break has done Bournemouth no favours, it' s certainly given Crystal Palace the refresher they needed to make a late dash for the Europa League.
Whether they achieve the unthinkable or not, they're gonna go for it in style. The Eagles played some beautiful football over the course of the 90 minutes and it was summed up by the wonderfully-executed move which led to the decisive goal of the match.
The build up began when Cahill delivered a lovely switched ball across to the left flank, which Christian Benteke cleverly dummied for Wilfried Zaha. The Ivorian waited, waited, waited some more, and then picked his pass, carving the Bournemouth defence to pieces with an incisive through ball. Van Aanholt burned behind the backline and pulled back an inch-perfect ball to Ayew, who cooly applied the finish.
Many thought Milivojevic's incredible free-kick would be the best strike of the evening, but Palace's team effort just about tops it.
Starting XI: Guaita (7); Ward (8), Dann (8), Cahill (8), Van Aanholt (8); Milivojevic (8), Kouyate (8), McArthur (8), Ayew (9); Benteke (8), Zaha (8).
Substitutes: McCarthy (7), Townsend (7), Riedewald (N/A).
It's about time this guy got the credit he deserves. A look at Jordan Ayew's Premier League CV and you'd begin to wonder how he's still knocking about up here. Two relegations with Aston Villa and Swansea make for grim reading, but he's proving all his doubters wrong for Palace this season.
The Ghanaian striker performs the most thankless of roles in this Eagles side, allowing the likes of Zaha to earn all the plaudits.
But there's no question that he is almost as important to Roy Hodgson's plans. Ayew ran himself into the ground on Saturday evening, tracking back and dropping deep to link up the midfield and attack. In other words, he's Palace's Roberto Firmino. But he got his reward against Bournemouth, tapping home his ninth goal of the season, and in doing so, setting some personal and league records.
Ayew is now also the highest scoring Ghanian player in Premier League history with 25 goals to his name, and has also scored in three consecutive matches for the first time in his English top flight career. A hard-earned reward for a selfless star.
Bournemouth continue their fight against the dreaded drop with a trip to Europe-chasing Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday evening.
Palace follow up their journey to the south coast with a another away day at the soon-to-be league champions Liverpool.
Source : 90min