A superb brace from Ryan Fraser ensured that AFC Bournemouth finished the year on a high against a poor Everton side.
Bournemouth lifted themselves out of the relegation zone with a performance worthy of ending Sam Allardyce‘s unbeaten run as Toffees manager. They created more chances, and it was down to poor decision-making that the score was so tight.
Everton paid the price for a defensive approach, and the four changes made by Allardyce meant his side were disjointed early on. Bournemouth took full advantage.
In the 33rd minute, James McCarthy gave away the ball to Josh King. His cross seemed to be behind Fraser, but the Scotsman adjusted in the air to volley home wonderfully.
It was a half of few chances, and Fraser took his well. In the second half, however, a Bournemouth mistake changed the complexion of the match.
The usually reliable Steve Cook made the error in the 56th minute, with a poor pass. Idrissa Gueye capitalised with an excellent finish past Asmir Begovic, and it looked to be another night of frustration for the Cherries.
However, the Toffees did not take the initiative after the goal, and Bournemouth started to grow into the game again.
Jordon Ibe was a menace, with one of his shots smacking against the crossbar in the 81st minute. Benik Afobe made himself a constant threat in the air, and Jordan Pickford was kept busy in the Everton goal throughout the half. In contrast, his teammates rarely threatened, and at times the game resembled one of attack vs defence.
And once again, there was late drama at the Vitality. In the 89th minute, Fraser struck again to give Bournemouth the win their performance merited.
The Scotsman cut in on his right, after the rookie fullback Jonjoe Kenny gave him too much space, and carved away a shot. The shot took two deflections and left Pickford stranded, as wild celebrations ensued.
There will be no doubt about the legitimacy of Bournemouth’s late goal today. It ensures the Cherries go into the New Year out of the relegation zone. They jumped five spots after the win, and now the South Coast club can look ahead to 2018 with renewed hope.