Bournemouth 4 Middlesbrough 0: Cherries pick off sorry Boro with ease

Bournemouth enjoyed their day in the sun on Saturday as they thumped Boro 4-0 - Rex Features

Middlesbrough are dropping out of the Premier League with barely a whimper. Nine points adrift of safety with five games left to play is surely a feat beyond a team without a win in 2017.

Three of those fixtures are against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool, making their chances of survival even more remote.

Here, the game was up after twenty minutes when they trailed to goals from Joshua King and Benik Afobe and had Gaston Ramirez sent off for two bookings.

The supporters were barely back in their seats after standing to applaud former Boro defender Ugo Ehiogu as Bournemouth took a second minute lead.

Joshua King celebrates scoring the first goal of the afternoon Credit:  PA

Incisive approach play from Charlie Daniels and Marc Pugh down the Cherries’ left gave King the chance to fire in his 14th Premier League goal of the season from close range.

It is King’s 11th goal of 2017, five more than Middlesbrough have managed as a team.

It is that dismal form in front of goal which will almost certainly send the Teesiders down. Here, they employed a back five with Alvaro Negredo the lone front man.

When Boro did break into the Bournemouth penalty area, Gaston Ramirez fell under Simon Francis’ challenge and was booked for diving.

Bournemouth had far greater purpose and were two up after Afobe slotted past Brad Guzan at close range.

Benik Afobe slotted in Bournemouth's second goal after 16 minutes Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Boro had imploded. After 20 minutes, they were two down and reduced to ten men when Ramirez received a second caution for lunging in on Pugh, though the contact looked minimal.

The travelling support, making a round trip of almost 700 miles, will already have been contemplating the journey home.

Artur Boruc had nothing to do in the Bournemouth goal but was on hand to make an excellent diving save from Marten De Roon’s 25 yard half-volley as Boro sought an unlikely route back.

Ben Gibson is a player who will perhaps be prized away from the Riverside Stadium if Boro are relegated, as seems increasingly likely.

He was the only defender who looked capable of dealing with the pace of King and Afobe, who have scored 16 of Bournemouth’s last 17 goals.

On 44 minutes, the age at which he passed away, the stadium again rose to sing Ehiogu’s name.

Bournemouth looked to turn the screw in the second half and Guzan saved well from Afobe’s close range header after good work from Lewis Cook out wide.

Guzan then saved a pile-driver from Ryan Fraser who drove at the top left corner but Boro’s resistance was never going to hold out.

Pugh was the man to break it, cutting in the from the left to curl deliciously beyond the American keeper amid more laughable defending.

Marc Pugh (centre) is congratulated y team-mates after scoring Bournemouth's third Credit: PA

Charlie Daniels was the next to take advantage. Fraser rolled a free kick into his path and the Bournemouth full-back skipped past Adam Clayton to drive the ball into the bottom right corner.

The win takes Bournemouth to 38 points, curing chants of ‘we are staying up’ from their supporters.

It is another impressive milestone in Eddie Howe’s burgeoning managerial career.

Middlesbrough’s next manager remains unknown but whoever is appointed will be playing their trade in the Championship.

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