Bournemouth boosted their chances of staying in the Premier League with a crushing 4-0 win over 10-man Middlesbrough that pushed their opponents towards the relegation precipice on Saturday.
Middlesbrough, who have not won in 16 league games, had a nightmare opening 20 minutes in which they conceded two goals and had midfielder Gaston Ramirez sent off for a second booking.
Bournemouth, who ended a run of four league games without a win, were ahead after 96 seconds with Joshua King’s 11th goal in 13 matches and two up when Benik Afobe punished more slack Boro defending from Charlie Daniels’ through ball in the 16th minute.
The visitors, with Ramirez already booked for a dive in the Cherries’ box, had the Uruguayan sent off after 20 minutes for a lunging tackle on winger Marc Pugh.
Pugh marked his 250th league game for Bournemouth with their third in the 65th and Daniels added the fourth five minutes later.
Middlesbrough manager Steve Agnew made no excuses.
“We lost the game in the first period. We defended really poorly for two goals and gave ourselves a difficult afternoon,” he told the BBC
Boro’s next game is against north-east neighbours Sunderland.
“We have to go and beat Sunderland on Wednesday and move on from there. It’s been a tough few months, certainly since our last win.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was full of praise for his side after they bounced back strongly from a 4-0 mauling at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
“It was a great performance from us, an electric start. We were dominant in the early stages,” Howe told reporters.
“When you consider the importance of the game, the early goal gave us a huge lift and dented their confidence. Luckily we didn’t rest on that and got the second goal.”
He added, however, that Bournemouth should not feel safe from relegation despite being seven points above the drop zone with four matches left.
“We need more points until it (safety) is mathematically secured,” he said.
Reporting by Rex Gowar, editing by Ed Osmond