MIDDLESBROUGH missed out on the chance to go three points clear at the top of the Championship after being comprehensively beaten 3-0 by promotion rivals Bournemouth today.
A penalty piece for Yann Kermorgant and Brett Pitman, interspersed by a stunning Harry Arter finish, moved Bournemouth to top spot and a point above Boro ahead of the rest of today’s games.4
Bournemouth doubled their lead in spectacular style. Harry Arter picked up the ball 25-yards out from the goal and bent a left-footed shot in off the post
The Cherries were the far superior outfit in the noon game with their pressing game stifling Boro.
Tomas Kalas replaced Jonathan Woodgate in defence who was left out of the squad after his exertions in the past two games. Elsewhere Aitor Karanka opted for a forward pairing of Patrick Bamford and Lee Tomlin meaning Jelle Vossen had to settle for a place on the bench.
The atmosphere inside the Goldsands was befitting for two teams vying for promotion to the Premier League and it certainly helped stoke the feisty encounter.
Bournemouth’s harassment hindered Boro’s confidence and fluidity and the hosts began with pace, Kermorgant testing Dimi Konstantopoulus after just one minute with a free-kick.
Patrick Bamford was a stronger touch away from giving Boro the lead when he only managed a faint stab at goal following Albert Adomah’s cut-back in the ninth minute.
But then Bournemouth’s terrorisation of Tomas Kalas started in ideal fashion. The terrific Callum Wilson beat Kalas for pace first and then the Chelsea loanee desperately dragged the striker’s shirt inside the box after being beaten for a second time.
Kermorgant hit the result penalty to the left of the goal and into the net for a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute.
Wilson shot wide of the framework from 20 yards after Andrew Surman disposed Adam Clayton of the ball.
Playing with a swagger and a confidence, Matt Ritchie set Kermorgant up for a volley that the Frenchman ballooned over the bar.
Wilson forced Kalas into another foul, the Czech upending the pacey forward on the left wing but without receiving retribution. A minute after Wilson chested a long ball under Kalas’s nose inside the box but the defender recovered well to clear for a corner.
In the 25th minute Boro felt aggrieved not to be awarded an attacking free-kick when Bamford broke with Adomah and the latter’s cross appeared to strike Simon Francis’s hand.
Soon after Wilson headed the ball into Kermorgant’s path and Konstantopoulos had to be alert to stop the striker’s effort.
The Cherries forced the Boro stopper into another save on 30 minutes, Wilson expertly holding the ball up and teeing Ritchie up for a low drive.
Before half-time Boro settled a little, eyeing the half-time regroup, but Wilson did manager another punt at goal, this time arcing a shot from the right over the crossbar.
Three minutes into the second-half and Bournemouth doubled their lead in spectacular style. Harry Arter picked up the ball 25-yards out from the goal and bent a left-footed shot in off the post.
Kalas’s afternoon almost got even worse when his header to the onrushing Konstantopoulos missed the Greek keeper and trickled towards the goalline before he cleared it.
But the danger was not over and Ritchie should have gave the Cherries a 3-0 lead but he skied over Charlie Daniels’ cut-back from five yards.
Kike had a header chalked off for offside as Boro enjoyed a sustained period of possession in the Boro half but crosses into the box were all the visitors could muster.
In the 70th minute it was three. Arter ran unchallenged for 20 yards and when he made his way into the box he was tripped by Grant Leadbitter. Sub Brett Pitman cooly dispatched the spot-kick.
The attacking forays from the host continued, Marc Pugh hitting a chance that lack accuracy and Pitman nearly doubling his tally with a curling effort.
Bournemouth: Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels; Ritchie, (Smith, 65) Arter, Surman, Pugh; Kermorgant (Pitman, 61), Wilson (Rantie, 90)
Subs not used: Camp, Smith, MacDonald, Fraser, Ward
Boro: Konstantopoulos, Nsue (Forshaw, 55), Kalas, Gibson, Friend; Adomah, Clayton (Kike, 55), Leadbitter (Whitehead, 78), Reach; Tomlin, Bamford
Subs not used: Ripley, Vossen, Omeruo, Wildschut