EPL

Justin Kluivert’s late winner enough for Bournemouth to see off Crystal Palace

By Sports Desk April 02, 2024

Substitute Justin Kluivert bagged a late winner as Bournemouth beat shot-shy Crystal Palace 1-0 to claim a third straight win and fourth in five matches.

The game was played in torrential rain and swirling winds, which made it difficult for either side to get the ball down and play.

Palace deployed former Bournemouth midfielder Jefferson Lerma as an emergency central defender to deputise for the injured Chris Richards and the Colombian made a desperate last-ditch tackle in the 10th minute to deny Philip Billing a clean run on goal after neat interplay between the Dane and Dominic Solanke.

Jean-Phillipe Mateta then found himself in the right place at the right time to nod the ball over his own crossbar after Dango Ouattara had flicked a corner towards the Palace net.

The visitors’ first sight of goal came five minutes later when Mateta shot straight into the arms of Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto after Will Hughes had dispossessed Alex Scott on the edge of his own penalty area.

Billing guided a left-foot shot narrowly wide after linking up with Ouattara before an off-balance Jordan Ayew could only pick out Neto’s gloves after being teed up by the lively Eberechi Eze.

It took until nine minutes before half-time for Eagles goalkeeper Dean Henderson to be properly tested as he flung himself down to his left to turn away Billing’s long-range free-kick.

A minute later Henderson made an even better save to acrobatically tip Billing’s powerful header from Adam Smith’s cross over the bar.

The resulting corner found Lloyd Kelly unmarked at the far post but the defender could only head wide from close range.

Palace thought they had taken the lead in first-half stoppage time when Eze fired home at the far post via a deflection but their celebrations were cut short after a VAR review deemed Mateta was just offside in the build-up to the goal.

Bournemouth, watched from the stand by American owner Bill Foley, brought on Antoine Semenyo for Scott at half-time before introducing Milos Kerkez and Kluivert early in the second half.

Within seconds of his arrival left-back Kerkez forced a sprawling save from Henderson before Solanke, who was largely starved of service, lashed the rebound into the side-netting from a tight angle.

Palace’s stubborn resistance was finally broken in the 79th minute when Semenyo got the better of David Ozoh down the right wing before cutting the ball back for fellow substitute Kluivert to rifle home from 12 yards.

Semenyo could have doubled Bournemouth’s lead moments later but his angled drive from the corner of the six-yard box was well saved by Henderson with his legs.

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