AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe pointed to the quality of Chelsea’s finishing as the key factor in his side’s 4-1 defeat on Saturday.
Tommy Elphick’s first-half goal was rendered irrelevant by Eden Hazard’s brace and further strikes from Pedro and Willian, as Bournemouth slipped to a fourth defeat in their last five Premier League games.
Despite the result, Howe praised his side’s performance after the Cherries registered as many shots on target as their opponents.
He told BBC Solent Sport: “I was very, very pleased with the first-half display. We were everything we wanted to be in terms of our performance and work rate off the ball. To have that many chances in one half against Chelsea was really pleasing.
“The disappointment was that we didn’t follow that up in the second half. We dropped our levels and they took control by keeping the ball and we gave it away too regularly.
“Our players fatigued with the number of counter-attacks and recovery runs we had to make, and we lost the edge to our play. The quality of their finishing was the difference between the teams because we created chances that were just as good as theirs.
“The first half was one of the highest quality games that we’ve been involved in this season. The speed of the play, the speed of the ball and the technical level was really high. They tried to slow the play down in the second half and they were in front so that’s their prerogative.”
The defeat left Bournemouth 13th in the table with three games left to play, and they face Everton, West Brom and Manchester United before the end of the season. Howe’s team are 11 points clear of 18th-placed Sunderland, but Sam Allardyce’s side have two games in hand.
Howe added: “Until we’re mathematically safe we don’t consider ourselves to be staying in the Premier League yet, and the last three games are tough.
“We have to improve all elements of our game. I saw a positive performance for the majority of today, and if we can match those levels between now and the end of the season we can go into next season with momentum.”