Gaston Ramirez took a pair of yellows — one for diving — and Middlesbrough conceded twice. That was just the first 20 minutes of what could prove to be the decisive match of Boro’s relegation fate.
Joshua King and Benik Afobe scored for the Cherries in the first 20 minutes, and Man of the Match candidate Marc Pugh added a goal and an assist. Charlie Daniels also netted for Bournemouth, which is seven points clear of the drop.
Boro is nine points back of Hull City with five to play.
It took Bournemouth less than 90 seconds to breach the Boro goal, as Marc Pugh took the final bit of good-looking passing on the left flank and cut the ball to the middle of the six for his 14th goal of the season.
Gaston Ramirez was shown a yellow card for diving in the box, a clear-cut and terrible embellishment made somewhat amusing by his demands for a trainer and a few minutes of delay in the game.
It was 2-0 just before the clock hit 16:00, as Boro’s Adam Clayton elected to take a touch of a back pass just outside the 18. Harry Arter poked that touch to Afobe, who beat Brad Guzan.
Pugh then dove after Ramirez’s foolish sliding challenge, and Boro was down to 10 men after 20 minutes.
Boro was hamstrung, but not out. Alvaro Negredo had stung a volley at Artur Boruc, and Marten De Roon forced the game’s first corner with a torrid shot near the half-hour mark.
Tricky work from Afobe cued Ryan Fraser up for a shot that missed the frame in the 52nd minute as Bournemouth buzzed toward a third goal.
Pugh then punished Boro with a 65th minute rip from the left that had Guzan flailing at air. Charlie Daniels added a fourth five minutes later.
Relegation haunted Swansea host Stoke, while Hull welcome Watford in another big home clash for a team fighting relegation. West Ham and Everton collide at the London Stadium and Bournemouth host Middlesbrough with both teams desperate for a win.
You can see every goal as it goes in on Premier League Goal Rush by clicking on the link below.
For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being very similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window.
The feature game this weekend on “Goal Rush” will be West Ham vs. Everton and as goals and incidents occur around the league, you will be transported to the action as it happens.
More info is available here, plus the schedule for all four games at 10 a.m. ET is below. You can stream each game live by clicking on the links below or above.
10 a.m. ET: Everton vs. West Ham – NBCSN [STREAM] 10 a.m. ET: Swansea vs. Stoke – CNBC [STREAM] 10 a.m. ET: Hull City vs. Watford – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
Top Premier League Story Lines: Relegation race running hot
With the semifinalists all being PL powers, the focus will largely be on the relegation race aside from three Top Seven sides looking to put pressure on Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City.
Can Man Utd overcome short turnaround to keep up Top Four push? Burnley vs. Manchester United — 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday
Defender-depleted Manchester United was home for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League second leg, which is the only blessing of a midweek match before a trip to Turf Moor to take on a Clarets side who is much better at home. The Red Devils control their Top Four destiny, but dropping a point would lend an advantage of both Liverpool and Man City while opening things up for Arsenal.
Palace seeks to be influential at both ends of table Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace — 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Crystal Palace’s rise out of the drop zone has shaken up the Top Four a bit, too. Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend have helped the Eagles to April wins over Chelsea and Arsenal, and will hope to add Liverpool’s name to the list. Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds are two points clear of fourth place Man City and six ahead of fifth place Manchester United, but have would drop out of the Top Four if the aforementioned clubs win their matches-in-hand the rest of the way. Lost points would hit hard.
Cherries aim to put relegation in rear view mirror Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Eddie Howe‘s Bournemouth opens the day seven points clear of the drop with five matches to play, and a win would lift the Cherries well above the fray. Boro would just like to see safety, sitting six points shy of 17th.
Can Tigers keep up safety pace? Hull City vs. Watford — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
While the unexpected is possible during the stretch run, the final relegation slot will likely come down to Hull and Swansea. Marco Silva’s Tigers are two points ahead of Swans and just need to maintain that pace barring a miraculous run from Boro. The next obstacle is a Watford side which has claimed three wins in four, the lone setback coming against the rolling Spurs.
Swans looking for any sign of life from the Liberty Stadium
Swansea City vs. Stoke City — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
One point from six matches does not make a successful relegation fight, and Paul Clement‘s side has lost to four lower tier sides since beating Burnley on March 4. Swansea have showed relegation form playing defense-first under Francesco Guidolin, throwing attack-first on Bob Bradley‘s watch, and now in a variety of ways under Clement. Maybe it’s the players?
Will Toffees be able to make improbable run to fifth? West Ham United vs. Everton — 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Ronald Koeman‘s Toffees can been fairly consistent in piling up points, except when it comes to the teams above it. That’s what is keeping Everton from being a real threat to the Top Four. West Ham is not above Everton, and would love to hit a reset button on the entire season. No way the Toffees foul this up, even on the road, right?
Arsenal’s quest for a top-four finish has improved ever so slightly from where it stood two hours ago, though the Gunners’ performance in a 2-1 victory away to 19th-place Middlesbrough did very little to inspire confidence and relieve the pressure on Arsene Wenger.
After an opening 40 minutes which saw very little in terms of scoring chances for either side, Alexis Sanchez broke the scoreless deadlock with a stunning free kick from 23 yards out (WATCH HERE). Brad Guzan, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 2 (in PL play), couldn’t move as the Chilean’s dead-ball strike cleared the wall and dipped under the crossbar.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Boro pulled level through Alvaro Negredo in the 50th minute. Stewart Downing hit the perfect cross to the top of the six-yard box, Laurent Koscielny whiffed on his clearance attempt, and Negredo beat Petr Cech to make it 1-1 (WATCH HERE).
Following Negredo’s equalizer, any semblance of discipline and game plan from either side went out the window. The pace of the game went through the roof as Arsenal chased three points in their bid to catch fourth-place Manchester City (who are now seven points ahead, having played one more game than Arsenal), as Boro sought the same in hopes of fighting off relegation.
Much like his manager, Mesut Ozil’s future remains very uncertain two months before the summer transfer carousel begins spinning once again. Monday offered Ozil a brief reprieve and the chance to play the role of hero (above video). Sanchez played a lofted ball into the box, which Aaron Ramsey chested down into the path of an unmarked Ozil, and the 28-year-old German international slammed his first-time effort past Guzan.
4 – Mesut Ozil has been involved in four goals in his last four Premier League games (2 goals, 2 assists). Upturn.