By Tommy Churchyard
Chelsea produced a classy second half performance to comfortably win 4-1 against AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe thought Bournemouth performed well, but were not as clinical as Chelsea. He said: “In the first half I thought we were terrific, I was really pleased with our performance. I thought the difference between the teams was how they finished their goals in comparison to us.
“We created a number of chances in the first half but didn’t have the clinical edge that they had. The second half was different, I thought they did very well and we struggled to get into the rhythm that we had in the first period.
“The frustrating thing is that we looked like we were going to score in the early stages of the first half, then seconds later we conceded. The speed of their counter attacking and the quality they showed in those front areas was very high.”
Despite a number of good chances for Bournemouth in the first half, Cherries found themselves 2-0 down after 34 minutes with neat finishes from both Pedro and Eden Hazard putting the Blues in a commanding position.
Bournemouth captain Tommy Elphick pulled one back shortly afterwards, but Chelsea killed the game off in the second half with a neat finish from Willian and a second of the game for Hazard.
Despite Bournemouth more than matching the Blues in the first half, Eddie Howe’s men never got going in the second period and were punished by a strong Chelsea attacking force led by Cesc Fabregas, who created the first three goals for the Blues.
Bournemouth started the game the brighter of the two sides, but it was Chelsea who took the lead against the run of play. Fabregas sliced an inch perfect ball through the Bournemouth defence and Pedro dinked his finish neatly over Artur Boruc.
Bournemouth responded well to going behind and had a number of opportunities, the first coming through King who blazed over from 18 yards after a well worked Cherries corner.
Shortly after, Steve Cook missed a guilt-edged chance to level the game when stand-in goalkeeper Asmir Begovic flapped Andrew Surman’s corner straight into Cook’s path, only for him to lash over from six yards.
Cherries then squandered three good headed chances in ten minutes with two of them falling to Lewis Grabban and another to Joshua King.
Eden Hazard then made Bournemouth pay for not being more clinical. Fabregas provided a lovely flicked lay off and the Belgian struck home from 25 yards into the bottom corner to extend Chelsea’s lead.
Bournemouth responded immediately to put them back into the game through captain Tommy Elphick. The Cherries number five climbed high to meet a Simon Francis’ cross and his header crept in off the post, securing his first ever Premier League goal.
Pedro should have regained Chelsea’s two goal lead just before the break after wriggling himself an opening inside the Cherries penalty area, but he lashed his shot wide from ten yards and Chelsea remained 2-1 up at half-time.
Both teams started slowly in the second half and Howe attempted to spark some life into his team by bringing on Callum Wilson and Benik Afobe just after the hour mark.
However, they striking duo failed to make a noticeable impact and Chelsea extended their lead in the 71st minute with a carbon copy of their first goal. This time it was Willian on the end of Fabregas’ killer through ball to calmly dink over Boruc.
Bournemouth failed to respond and Chelsea comfortably saw the game out, with Hazard adding a fourth in the 90th minute, latching onto Nemanja Matic’s pull back to slot home for his second of the game.
Full time: AFC Bournemouth 1 Chelsea 4
Bournemouth line-up: Boruc, Francis, Cook, Gosling, Elphick, Surman, Pugh, Daniels, King (Wilson 63’), Stanislas (Richie 78’), Grabban (Afobe 63’)
Chelsea line-up: Begovic, Ivanovic, Fabregas, Rahman, Hazard, Mikel, Pedro, Costa, Matic, Willian (Loftus-Cheek 83’), Azpilicueta