Crystal Palace kept up its pursuit of the top seven with a comfortable 2-0 win at relegation-troubled Bournemouth on Saturday.
Luka Milivojevic scored a classy free kick and Jordan Ayew finished off a fine team move as Roy Hodgson’s Eagles hit ninth place with 42 points, level with Tottenham and two points ahead of Arsenal.
The win was Palace’s fourth-straight Premier League win, all by clean sheet.
Palace’s Gary Cahill dodged a red card early in the second half but Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook wasn’t so lucky when VAR caught his stoppage-time elbow.
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Bournemouth remains in 18th place with 27 points, behind West Ham on goal differential and a point behind 16th place Watford.
Three things we learned
1. Cherries drop the ball: There aren’t a lot of obvious places on the fixture list for Bournemouth to collect points and escape the drop zone. With plenty of respect to Roy Hodgson’s talented and exciting Eagles, this was one of those spots. Even worse, none of Bournemouth’s remaining opponents are in the relegation race with them so the chances to doubly affect the scrap are null.
2. Milivojevic is key: Palace’s 29-year-old captain got on the score sheet for the first time since late October, spinning a powerful free kick off the hand of Ramsdale and into the goal.
There was some question as to how Roy Hodgson would utilize Milivojevic, James McArthur, and James McCarthy. McArthur is having a career year and was always going to play and Milijoveic over McCarthy was a risk that paid off.
3. Palace keeps European hopes alive: The Eagles needed three points here with Liverpool, Chelsea, Wolves, Spurs, and Manchester United on the docket. It seems a tall ask for Hodgson’s men to overcome that fixture list to qualify for Europe, but the Eagles are just four points back of fifth and two behind seventh. They have the same amount of points as eighth-place Spurs, and eighth could be enough for the Europa League if Man City’s ban is upheld and a top seven team wins the FA Cup.
Man of the Match: Milivojevic
Crystal Palace’s set-piece king delivered the opener in under a dozen minutes.
Milivojevic is usually the penalty kick, but he was golden from a bit further back and to left (back and to the left).
Bournemouth keeper Aaron Ramsdale could only get a hand on the spinning effort on its way into goal.
Palace was roaring out of the gates and Ayew got his ninth goal of the season when he slammed home a pass from Patrick van Aanholt, who overlapped Wilfried Zaha to send a ball in from the left.
Ayew’s nine goals are his most in a Premier League season and three shy of his career high of 12 set with Lorient in the 2014-15 Ligue 1 season.
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The match hit a potential turning point in the 46th minute when Gary Cahill went studs-up into Joshua King.
Replays showed a possible if not probable red card offense, but VAR didn’t see enough to send Cahill off the pitch. King would not return.
Nathan Ake suffered a head injury putting a Junior Stanislas corner kick on goal. Stanislas later cracked a free kick into the wall.
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