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    Bournemouth 3-0 Norwich City: The Cherries Beat Norwich To The Signing Of Afobe And To A Crucial Three Points At Dean Court

    Two promoted teams, two bright young managers and two clubs looking to avoid relegation met at Dean Court on Saturday afternoon. Both managers had earmarked the contest as a crucial clash in their fight for survival, with Bournemouth sitting 16th in the Premier League and three points above the relegation zone, whilst their visitors found themselves just one place and two points above them.

    Bournemouth, who were looking to end a run of six matches without a victory against Norwich, were missing Matt Ritchie through injury and Lewis Grabban with illness so he could not take part against his former club. Marc Pugh came into the starting line-up, whilst record signing Benik Afobe continued up front after Norwich missed out on his signature just a couple of weeks ago. For the visitors, fit again Matt Jarvis replaced the suspended Gary O'Neil, who got sent off against Stoke during the week.

    The Cherries started the brightest and had the first chance of the game when Benik Afobe cut inside Ryan Bennett on the edge of the box, but could only fire over. Junior Stanislas followed that effort up just moments later, when he picked up some space after an Afobe lay-off, but his shot deflected into the arms of Declan Rudd. The hosts certainly looked the most likely to break the deadlock and they did just that after only ten minutes. Charlie Daniels released Marc Pugh, who cut back onto his right foot, before whipping an excellent cross onto the head of the unmarked Dan Gosling to give Bournemouth a crucial lead and Gosling his first home league goal for the Cherries.

    The hosts continued to press and a fast, flowing move created some space for Gosling, who curled an effort just past the post. Bournemouth could have had another opportunity to double their advantage when Charlie Daniels was bundled over by Russell Martin in the area, only for referee Bobby Madley to wave away the penalty appeals. Norwich finally managed to get an effort of note away on 32 minutes, with Matt Jarvis cutting inside off the flank but his shot was straight at Artur Boruc. The hosts responded by coming straight back at their rivals, with Harry Arter hitting a 25 yard shot just wide of the Norwich goal. With half-time approaching, the visitors slowly started to settle into the game, as Robbie Brady tested Boruc from a free-kick and Alex Tettey hit a volley over. Yet there was still time for Bournemouth fans to be left disappointed with the referee again, after their earlier penalty appeal was turned down, this time because Norwich goalkeeper Declan Rudd clattered into Benik Afobe just outside the area, but received just a yellow card with two defenders seemingly coming round to cover. As the whistle blew at the end of the opening 45 minutes, Alex Neil would have been breathing a huge sigh of relief that his team were still in the game.

    Bournemouth started the second half with the same attitude, as another excellent passing move resulted in Marc Pugh twisting and turning to find space, only to be thwarted by the feet of Declan Rudd. Pugh himself had a header cleared off the line by Martin, before the winger won a penalty when he was held back by Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe from the resulting corner. Charlie Daniels stepped up to take the spot-kick and fired his shot off the inside of the post and into the back of the net to give Bournemouth a deserved two goal advantage.

    Alex Neil replaced Matt Jarvis and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe with Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond, but it was the hosts who looked most likely to create another goal. Junior Stanislas dragged an effort wide, before Steve Cook forced Declan Rudd into a fine save from a header. Graham Dorrans came on for the quiet Wes Hoolahan, before Dan Gosling forced Rudd into another save from an effort outside the box. Dieumerci Mbokani did have a couple of chances to get Norwich back into the game when he broke clear of the Bournemouth defence, but lifted his shot over Boruc and a long way wide, before beating Cook and hitting another effort straight at Boruc. The Canaries knew they had to take such chances and it was not long before Bournemouth made them pay again. Charlie Daniels bombed down the left, before firing a low cross to Benik Afobe who smashed the ball home for his first Bournemouth goal...against the team who missed out on signing him. Eddie Howe did allow Alex Neil some light relief when he rested Harry Arter and Benik Afobe in the last ten minutes, as Bournemouth cruised to a comfortable victory and win for the first time in their last seven meetings with Norwich City.

    The result allows Bournemouth to leapfrog Norwich in the table to 15th, as the Canaries find themselves just four points above the relegation zone with Swansea still to play on Monday. Alex Neil's men have a difficult trip to Liverpool next Saturday, whilst Bournemouth have another crunch match with relegation rivals Swansea. 

    Chris Lincoln's Man of the Match: Marc Pugh
    The winger came in as a late replacement for Matt Ritchie and ran Russell Martin ragged, creating the first two Bournemouth goals in the process.
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    Item Reviewed: Bournemouth 3-0 Norwich City: The Cherries Beat Norwich To The Signing Of Afobe And To A Crucial Three Points At Dean Court Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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