Steve Cook’s late header clinched a third successive Premier League victory for AFC Bournemouth as they beat Swansea City 3-2 at the Vitality Stadium to take another huge step towards survival.
Swansea appeared to have salvaged a point when Gylfi Sigurdsson smashed into the top-left corner shortly after the hour mark, but Cook nodded in 12 minutes from time to secure a potentially vital win in the hosts’ battle against relegation.
Max Gradel’s first goal since returning from a six-month injury lay-off gave the home side the lead in the 37th minute, but that sparked Swansea into life as the threatening Modou Barrow – in for injured winger Andre Ayew – equalised with his maiden Premier League strike soon after.
Bournemouth retook the lead early in the second half through Josh King, who beat Lukasz Fabianski at his near post, but again Swansea – without head coach Francesco Guidolin for the third game in a row as he recovers from a chest infection – pegged them back.
Sigurdsson hammered home from 12 yards out after good work by Barrow on the right as both sides continued to push men forward in numbers.
It was Bournemouth who ultimately took the spoils, though, with Cook rising above Federico Fernandez to head in Matt Ritchie’s cross and move Eddie Howe’s men 13 points clear of the bottom three.
Bournemouth – unchanged from their victory over Newcastle United – looked the more likely to take the lead early on and Swansea had a lucky escape in the 13th minute, when Andrew Surman’s curling free-kick was kept out by the left-hand post.
The hosts continued to exert more pressure and they went close from another set-piece shortly before the half-hour mark, with Fabianski tipping over Ritchie’s audacious effort from near the corner flag.
The Polish goalkeeper was arguably at fault for Bournemouth’s 37th-minute opener, though, as he – via a deflection off Angel Rangel – palmed Adam Smith’s cross to Gradel, who sent a composed finish into the bottom-right corner.
But the lead was short-lived. Barrow darted up the right flank and tricked his way inside Charlie Daniels before finding the net with a low drive to cap a wonderful solo run just two minutes later.
Bournemouth started the second period brightly and retook the lead just five minutes in, as Gradel raced through the middle and fed King, who squeezed a powerful effort past Fabianski at the near post.
Swansea battled back again, however, and Sigurdsson collected Barrow’s cut-back in the middle of the area to hammer an emphatic finish into the top-left corner after teeing the ball up for himself.
Their efforts were ultimately in vain, though, as Cook headed in Ritchie’s brilliant cross in the 78th minute and Bournemouth held on for three important points, extending the gap between themselves and the relegation zone.
Swansea, meanwhile, remain eight points clear of the danger, with rock-bottom Aston Villa their next opponents at the Liberty Stadium.
Key Opta stats:
– Bournemouth have won back-to-back Premier League home games for the first time.
– Modou Barrow became the first Gambian to score a Premier League goal, meaning that 95 different nationalities have now netted in the Premier League.
– Barrow has the squad number 58 for Swansea and only Kelechi Iheanacho (72) has scored in the Premier League this season with a higher squad number than the Gambian.
– Only Norwich City (0) have kept fewer clean sheets away from home this season than Swansea City (1).
– Sergio Agüero (9) is the only player to have scored more Premier League goals in 2016 than Gylfi Sigurdsson (7).
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