AFC Bournemouth became the latest team to inflict more damage on a seemingly defeated Aston Villa side as the Cherries secured a 2-1 win at Villa Park and with it a rise up to 11th in the Premier League table.
These two teams met on the opening day of the season, with Villa securing a 1-0 win at the Vitality Stadium courtesy of a headed winner from Rudy Gestede. Both sides’ seasons have been stark contrasts since, with Eddie Howe's men being expected to go straight back down to the Championship but instead lying in mid table, while Villa remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
Caretaker manager Eric Black gave 20-year-old Australian Jordan Lyden the opportunity to make his Premier League debut, while the home fans conveyed their displeasure at the way this season has gone, choosing not to come into the stadium until the seventh minute, reflecting the number of league titles the club has won.
Meanwhile in the team news for Bournemouth it was a positive day for returning players as skipper Tommy Elphick made his first start since September and striker Callum Wilson made his long awaited return as he started on the bench, before coming on for the final 90 seconds of the match after seven months on the sidelines.
Uneventful first half
The first chance of the game came in the fifth minute as Lewis Grabban asked questions of Brad Guzan as he fired low towards to the bottom left corner, resulting in the American palming the ball away to his right.
A couple of minutes later, as the protesting Villa fans made their way into the stadium, the home side had their first chance. After some promising build up play Keiran Richardson found himself in space to have a shot on goal on the half volley, but fired well over the crossbar.
The Cherries showcase a training ground move
After a very dull and uneventful first half, Bournemouth took the lead in stoppage time thanks to a very well worked corner routine which came off the training ground.
Simon Francis played the ball short to Matt Ritchie who then back heeled a return pass to the right back as he made his way into the box. Francis drilled a low cross towards the on running Steve Cook who backheeled the ball into the net at the near post.
The half time whistle was met with boos ringing round Villa Park as the fans knew that, with Norwich City drawing against Crystal Palace at the time, it meant that they were to be relegated this afternoon.
Villa started the second half brightly nonetheless and missed a gilt-edged opportunity to draw level after Jordan Ayew fired the ball low across the goal right at Richardson’s feet, who failed to make a connection with it from just three yards out.
Bournemouth take control
In the 74th minute Aston Villa’s season was summed up in one move as the Cherries were gifted a second goal.
Ciaran Clark took an incredibly heavy touch on the edge of the home side’s area, allowing Josh King to steam in and calmly dink the ball over the diving Guzan to secure a commanding 2-0 lead.
All hope was not lost for the Claret and Blues as Ayew stepped up with a direct run towards goal which resulted in the Ghanaian firing past Artur Boruc to pull a goal back with five minutes to play. Staggeringly, that was Villa’s first and only shot on target in the 90 minutes as there was to be no comeback from the home side.
Bournemouth have now reached the sought after 40 point mark as they move up to 11th in the table on 41 points.
As for Aston Villa, with Norwich losing to Palace, the league's bottom side are not relegated yet, but they are as good as gone with the side facing a trip to Old Trafford next weekend, where they would expect to meet their fate.