Bournemouth 3-2 Swansea: Cherries edge five-goal thriller
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 12/03/16 9:30pm
Bournemouth all but guaranteed their Premier League status for next season with an entertaining 3-2 win over Swansea at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
Max Gradel gave the hosts a 37th-minute lead, only for Mo Barrow to equalise for Swansea within two minutes and ensure the sides were tied together at 1-1 at the break.
Bournemouth were in front again five minutes into the second half though, Josh King powering the ball past Lukasz Fabianski. Swansea hit back through Gylfi Sigurdsson (62) but the Cherries were not to be denied as Steve Cook rose highest to head home what proved to be the winner with 12 minutes remaining.
Eddie Howe's side are now 13 points clear of the drop zone, while Swansea are closer to the danger zone but have an eight-point cushion above the relegation places.
It was a quick start to the game and both sides came close within five minutes of the kick-off. First, King headed Gradel's left wing cross onto the roof of the net for Bournemouth before, at the other end, Wayne Routledge sent a dipping volley narrowly over the crossbar.
Bournemouth gradually began to gain the upper hand with King, a constant threat to the Swansea backline, firing a left-foot effort over the bar from inside the box and Andrew Surman curling a free-kick round the wall and against the post.
For Swansea, Barrow always looked the most likely to make something happen and the winger felt he should have had a penalty after going over under the challenge of Charlie Daniels. The referee waved away his protests despite replays showing there was contact.
The Swans' frustration was added to when Gradel broke the deadlock, calmly firing the ball into the far corner after Fabianski pushed Adam Smith's cross into his path, via a deflection off Federico Fernandez.
The lead lasted just two minutes though as Barrow scored a fine individual goal to equalise. Having picked up the ball on the right wing, he drove to the edge of the box, threw in a couple of stepovers before cutting inside and curling the ball beyond Artur Boruc's despairing dive and into the far corner.
That was how it remained until the break but within five minutes of the restart Bournemouth retook the lead.
King won possession inside the Swansea half and found Gradel who advanced to the edge of penalty area before playing the return pass. King then took a touch before smashing the ball past Fabianski at his near post. Despite the ferocity of the strike, the goalkeeper may feel he could have done better.
Again Swansea refused to lie down though and levelled for the second time just after the hour mark. Barrow got to the byline and cut the ball back for Sigurdsson. The Icelandic midfielder took a touch before arrowing the ball into the corner of the net for his seventh goal in 11 games.
At that point, Swansea looked the most likely winners, Alberto Paloschi forcing a smart save from Boruc with his shot on the spin.
However, it was Bournemouth who grabbed the game's fifth goal as Matt Ritchie swung in an inviting cross following a short corner, Cook rising highest to power a header into the far corner.
The goal seemed to sap all the energy out of Swansea and Bournemouth were able to see out the game with relative ease.
Matt Le Tissier's Soccer Saturday verdict
"It was very open, very attacking - both sides were going for it from the off. The only surprise was that it took 37 minutes for the first goal to come.
"Should Swansea be worried? From what I saw, they've got more than enough in the squad to pick up enough points between now and the end of the season. They won't need too many more in my opinion.
"It was a good collective performance from Bournemouth but the one who caught my eye was Adam Smith at right-back, especially first half - a bundle of energy going on overlaps."
Bournemouth: Boruc (6), Smith (7), Francis (6), Cook (7), Daniels (5), Ritchie (7), Gosling (5), Surman (7), Gradel (8), King (8), Afobe (6).
Subs used: O'Kane (6), Grabban (5), Pugh (5).
Swansea: Fabianski (6), Rangel (5), Fernandez (6), Williams (6), Taylor (6), Fer (6), Cork (6), Barrow (8), Sigurdsson (7), Routledge (6), Paloschi (5).
Subs used: Gomis (5), Emnes (5), Ki (5).
Man of the match: Josh King