If the appointment of Rafael Benitez as Newcastle manager suddenly had either of these clubs looking nervously over their shoulders, then they had a funny way of showing it, producing an undisciplined but entertaining game that featured the sort of defending that has coaches tearing their hair out. Francesco Guidolin, Swansea’s manager, missed his third successive match through illness and this would probably have caused a relapse.
Bournemouth led three times and were twice pulled back, but there was little between the sides and the Welshmen were looking the likelier scorers before Steve Cook headed the goal that probably makes Eddie Howe’s side safe. “We’ve got a lot of games against good sides and you can’t predict what will be needed,” Howe said. “But we’re in a good position.”
Swansea will probably breathe easier after playing Aston Villa at home next Saturday, but Alan Curtis, the caretaker manager, was more concerned with yesterday’s performance. “It was frustrating,” he said. “We slipped up today. Villa was always a must-win. Now it’s a must, must-win.”
Bournemouth started quickly and were well on top before Lukasz Fabianski inexplicably palmed out a cross from Adam Smith to Max Gradel, who returned the ball into the net.
The goal, however, only serve to sting Swansea into life and two minutes later Modou Barrow cut inside from the right and sent a low left-foot shot past Artur Boruc. Four minutes into the second half Bournemouth retook the lead as Fabianski could only push Josh King’s shot onto the inside of his near post and in. But Swansea levelled again in the 62nd minute as Gylfi Sigurdsson found an astonishing amount of space in the middle of Bournemouth’s penalty area in which to control Barrow’s low cross and shoot home.
But after 78 minutes, Cook rose above Federico Fernandez at the far post to head in Ritchie’s corner, and Fabianski was at full stretch to prevent Lewis Grabban lobbing in a fourth.
Bournemouth: (4-4-1-1): Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Ritchie, Surman, Gosling (O’Kane, h-t), Gradel (Pugh 76); Afobe (Grabban, 65); King.
Swansea City: (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork, Fer (Ki, 84); Barrow (Emnes 80), Sigurdsson, Routledge (Gomis, 60); Paloschi.
Referee: Roger East.
Man of the match: Gradel (Bournemouth)
Match rating: 7/10