Bournemouth secured their Premier League safety on Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Swansea City at the Vitality Stadium, in a contest that could define who begins next year in the Championship.
Despite the visitors edging control of the game, although the tie was a balanced affair for most of the 90 minutes, Ryan Fraser’s first half deflected strike from the edge of the area was enough to settle the battle on the south coast and maintain Eddie Howe’s side stay in the big time for a third successive campaign.
The Swans, meanwhile, now wait nervously with the hope of Everton overcoming Southampton later in the day to make sure the Saints head into their midweek showdown at the Liberty Stadium still in the bottom three.
Despite witnessing Stoke City’s confirmation of relegation just minutes prior, the visitors started slowly, with Bournemouth enjoying prolonged spells around the Swans’ area during the opening exchanges.
However, it did not take too long for the Welshman to find their rhythm and had it not been for a heroic double-save from Asmir Begovic, Carlos Carvalhal’s side would have taken the lead.
Mike van der Hoorn fired the initial effort towards the Cherries’ goal; which the 30-year-old did well to force away before Nathan Dyer tested the Bosnia and Herzegovina international again moments later from close range, but the custodian was equal to it to eventually quash the danger.
After forcing the sensational double-stop, Swansea found themselves in the ascendency for the most part but struggled to create anything of significance with their possession.
And Bournemouth eventually punished the Swans’ lack of attacking intent shortly after the half-hour mark through a well-worked free-kick which saw Fraser eventually find the back of the net.
Following much deliberation whether a foul on the edge of the area was indeed inside the box, a decision referee Kevin Friend was correct in calling outside, Andrew Surman shaped to shoot only to roll a pass to the free Scottish winger, whose curling effort took a slight deflection before beating Lukasz Fabianski.
But almost immediately the Welsh outfit had the chance to level things up as the Ayew brothers combined on the edge of the area to release Jordan one-on-one with Begovic, but the 26-year-old’s sliced effort ended up high and wide from the target.
And even though the visitors continued to press for the equaliser as half-time approached, they struggled to manufacture any clear openings, and went into the break trailing by a goal; a deficit that could have been doubled had Callum Wilson taken advantage of Fabianski’s goalkeeping error second before Friend’s whistle.
Following the interval, the Swans looked to have reappeared with urgency, with Begovic forced into a smart stop less than 30 seconds into the second half.
However, as had been the case throughout the afternoon, the travelling side struggled to take advantage of their ascendancy and should have been made to pay for their lack of ruthlessness as Steve Cook was found by Wilson less than six yards from goal, but the defender could only nod his header over the bar.
And the Cherries spurned an even more appealing opportunity five minutes from time as Wilson was eventually found around four yards from goal after a driving run from Fraser initiated the counterattack.
But despite it seeming easier to score, somehow Fabianski was able to get across his goal and shut out the Bournemouth frontman with a stunning save to keep his side’s chances alive.
Yet Swansea struggled to take inspiration from their goalkeeper’s heroics and now find themselves relying on results elsewhere to become only the fourth side to survive the drop who were bottom of the Premier League at Christmas.