Bournemouth put cherry on top of standout year
Scott Parker’s Bournemouth side showed no signs of a Christmas hangover, as they completed their first league double over Cardiff City since 1999/00, securing a comfortable 3-0 victory to maintain their position as league leaders.
In a battle between promotion-pushing Bournemouth and relegation-threatened Cardiff, it was perhaps no shock to see the league leaders start the contest on top. Bullying the visitors back towards their own goal, the ‘Cherries’ eventually found a breakthrough just before the half-hour mark. Converting a drilled strike from inside the box, Ryan Christie was visibly relieved to have ended a run of 24 Championship matches without finding the net.
While Cardiff may have one of the league’s worst scoring records, it wasn’t for the want of trying in the first half, with Keiffer Moore’s prodded effort from inside the box requiring a smothered save by goalkeeper Mark Travers. Already a goal down, the visitors would finish the half a man down too, as Leandro Bacuna was sent off for a rash tackle on Philip Billing. A sour end to a frustrating half for Steve Morison’s side.
With the luxury of an extra player, Bournemouth allowed themselves to take their foot off the gas after the interval, as they looked to end a run of two home matches without a win. Patient in their build-up play, Jefferson Lerma ought to have added a second for the ‘Cherries’, but the 27-year-old was unable to guide his free header from inside the penalty area goalwards.
If the home side were to score a second, it was only ever going to come via talisman Dominic Solanke, who tucked home his 18th league goal of the campaign with a tidy finish midway through the second period. From thereon, it was cruise control for Bournemouth, who added a third as Lerma’s whipped strike seven minutes from time went in off Alex Smithies. A comfortable evening for the ‘Cherries’, who opened up a four-point gap at the top of the table.