Bournemouth return to top of Championship after 5-1 thrashing of Fulham
Last Updated: 07/03/15 12:31am
Bournemouth marched back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a 5-1 demolition of Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Two goals apiece from Brett Pitman and Matt Ritchie, followed by a late cracker from defender Steve Cook, ensured Eddie Howe's side took another big step towards the Premier League.
Pitman, only in the side due to an injury to Yann Kermorgant - who hit both goals in their midweek victory over Wolves - got the ball rolling just before the half-hour mark with his first goal since Boxing Day.
Ritchie doubled the advantage before half-time with a deflected effort and Pitman helped himself to a fine solo goal on the hour.
Matt Smith pulled one back with his first goal in Fulham colours, but any hopes of a home comeback were extinguished when Fernando Amorebieta was sent off and Ritchie blasted in the resulting free-kick.
Cook then crashed in number five with six minutes remaining to put the icing on the cake for the Cherries
Fulham, by no means out of danger at the other end of the table, actually made a lively start with Hugo Rodallega and Amorebieta sending headers narrowly over the crossbar.
But Bournemouth, who had gone five games without a win prior to Tuesday night, soon took control to prove their promotion bid is right back on track.
Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli was forced into a superb fingertip save from Mark Pugh's fierce drive and was then indebted to Ryan Tunnicliffe for a goal-line clearance to deny Pitman.
However, Pitman made no mistake in the 29th minute when he was picked out by a low cross from overlapping full-back Charlie Daniels and swept the ball home first time from 12 yards.
Eight minutes later Ritchie cut in from the right-hand side and, although Bettinelli appeared to have his shot covered, it clipped the heel of Nikolay Bodurov and looped up over the keeper.
Worse was to follow after the break for Fulham when Pitman was allowed to run from inside his own half, brushing off a couple of half-hearted challenges before clipping the ball past Bettinelli from the edge of the area.
Fulham cut the deficit in the 66th minute when Bryan Ruiz and Ross McCormack combined to tee up Smith, just back from a goal-filled loan spell at Bristol City, to clip the ball past Artur Boruc.
But just three minutes later Amorebieta saw red for bringing down Callum Wilson on the edge of the box and Ritchie slammed in the free-kick, before Cook rounded off an impressive win with a stunning strike to put the Cherries back on top.