Crystal Palace cruised to a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday evening, lifting the Cherries back into the Premier League relegation zone after a disappointing display.
Palace took the lead inside 12 minutes when Luka Milivojevic curled a superb free-kick into the top corner to give the Cherries the worst possible start. The hosts’ woes doubled ten minutes later as the Eagles sliced through the Bournemouth backline with ease, allowing Jordan Eve to provide a calm finish from Patrick van Aanholt’s superb cut-back.
Milivojevic after scoring his free kick / Poll / Getty Images
The visitors ran on their luck at the start of the second half, Gary Cahill fortunately escaping a red card for a late and careless challenge on Josh King. Bournemouth continued to toil with little sign of success, struggling to work Vicente Guetta in the Palace goal for the entire 90 minutes.
Eddie Huey’s side failed to find the net and the final whistle ended their miserable evening, leaving the Cherries struggling at the bottom, and Palace dropping to ninth in the table.
Key talking point
We all know Bournemouth’s core problems are at the back, but their astonishing 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 that has kept the Cherries alive in recent seasons. Unfortunately, their lack of speculation came back to haunt them once again.
Bournemouth are crying out for a creative midfielder. They look dead and buried.
— Leanne Prescott (@_lfcleanne) June 20, 2020
But to be fair, the two forwards never stood a chance. The pair were forced to carve out their half-chances from the start, with King often picking the ball up wide and attempting speculative long-range runs. Their problems were compounded when a leaky defense conceded two early goals, and Bournemouth fell deeper and deeper, unable to impose themselves on the match.
Minutes into the second half, Cherries’ hopes went up in smoke. King was on the receiving end of a dirty lazy challenge and was forced to limp down the tunnel, unable to continue. If this is the end of his season, it could also be the end of Bournemouth’s ambitions.
Starting XI: Ramsdale (6); Smith (5), Ike (6), S Cook (5) Stacey (5); Lima (7), L Cook (5), H Wilson (5), Brooks (6); King (6), C Wilson (6).
Alternative: Danjuma (6), Solanke (5), Stanislaus (6).
This guy deserves a little help in that midfield, right?
Jefferson Lima won’t be staying long at the Vitality Stadium – he’s too good for this group of players. Colombia adapted the Cherries’ backline to the best of their ability, but with little support up front and a consistently cracking defense behind them, they were fighting a losing battle.
In action against Jefferson Lima Palace/Michael Steele/Getty Images
When given the opportunity to get on the ball, Lima demonstrated the ease with which he could move past players and use his fearsome and brute strength to dominate the pitch. Ultimately, his efforts were in vain, even his tough tackling and relentless drive were not enough to impress his teammates.
Hard times at the bottom.
Key talking point
Europe calling, anyone? While the break hasn’t done Bournemouth any favours, it has 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 will go for it in style. The Eagles played some beautiful football throughout the 90 minutes and it was summed up by a wonderfully executed move that led to the decisive goal of the match.
Yves Strok at the Second of the Palace/Michael Steele/Getty Images
The build-up began when Cahill delivered a lovely switched ball down the left, which Christian Benteke deftly palmed for Wilfried Zaha. The Ivorian waited, waited, waited some more, and then picked up his pass, tearing the Bournemouth defense to shreds with a through ball. Van Aanholt burned behind the backline and pulled an inch-perfect ball to Ayew, who coolly applied the finish.
Many thought Milivojevic’s incredible free-kick would be the best strike of the evening, but Palace’s team effort topped it.
Starting XI: Guaita (7); Ward (8), Dunn (8), Cahill (8), Van Aanholt (8); Milivojevic (8), Kouyate (8), McArthur (8), Ayew (9); Benteke (8), Zaha (8).
Alternative: McCarthy (7), Townsend (7), Riedewald (N/A).
It’s about time this man got the credit he deserves. One look at Jordan Ayew’s Premier League CV and you’ll wonder how he’s still knocking it up here. Two relegations with Aston Villa and Swansea make for grim reading, but they are proving all doubters wrong for Palace this season.
The Ghanaian striker played a much appreciated role for the Eagles, allowing the likes of Zaha to take all the plaudits.
AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace – Premier League / Michael Steele / Getty Images
But there is no question that he is almost as important to Roy Hudson’s plans. Eve ran himself into the ground on Saturday evening, tracking back and dropping deep to connect and attack the midfield. In other words, he is the Roberto Firmino of Palace. But he got his reward against Bournemouth, scoring his ninth goal of the season, and in doing so, set some personal and league records.
Ayew is also now the top-scoring Ghanaian 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 the selfless star.
Bournemouth continue their fight against the dreaded drop with a trip to Europe-chasing Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday evening.
Palace have another day at soon-to-be league champions Liverpool as they follow their trip to the south coast.