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Chelsea 2-1 Bournemouth

Chelsea 2-1 Bournemouth

Chelsea 2-1 Bournemouth. Chelsea secured European football for next season as Moises Caicedo hit a stunning 50-yard goal in their 2-1 win over Bournemouth.

The Ecuadorian amazed all inside Stamford Bridge when he controlled Neto’s clearance and struck from inside the centre circle in the 17th minute for his first Chelsea goal.

Raheem Sterling doubled Chelsea’s lead at the start of the second half before Benoit Badiashile could only direct Enes Unal’s effort into his own goal as Andoni Iraola’s side cut the deficit.

Mauricio Pochettino’s sixth-placed side are provisionally set to play Europa Conference League football next term, but they will move up to the Europa League if Manchester City beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Saturday, 25 May.

Both sides started the game looking to attack as Cole Palmer went close for Chelsea while Bournemouth’s Antoine Semenyo fired straight at Dorde Petrovic inside 10 minutes.

Caicedo showed exactly what £115m brings to a side when he collected Neto’s clearance after the goalkeeper charged out to halt the run of Sterling.

The midfielder took aim as he crossed the halfway line, knowing Neto was well off his line, and there was nothing the Cherries keeper could do to prevent the accomplished finish.

Sterling made it 2-0 just after half-time. A jinking run on the left saw him leave two Bournemouth defenders behind before he fired through the legs of Neto.

Bournemouth closed the gap before Dominic Solanke, who started the game on the bench for the visitors, should have scored his 20th league goal of the season in the closing minutes. The former Chelsea man instead sent a poorly executed strike over the bar.

Chelsea have ended the season on a positive note, while Andoni Iraola’s Bournemouth, in trouble during the early weeks of the campaign, finish in 12th place.

It was Chelsea who came home 12th last season, and a vast improvement was called for at Stamford Bridge.

A new manager and a summer of spending did not immediately result in a winning formula.

Under the guidance of Pochettino, Chelsea were struggling in the bottom half of the table during the early months, having lost to the likes of West Ham, Brentford and Nottingham Forest.

There were calls for Pochettino’s sacking from supporters at times, but the Blues hierarchy stood firm and the Argentine boss has recently presented a glimpse of the team Chelsea could become.

Having ended the season with seven wins in 10 games – five of those wins coming in their last five matches – there is plenty of reason for optimism in west London.

European football has been secured, albeit not a Champions League place.

With 22 league goals, Cole Palmer enjoyed a season beyond his wildest dreams and may improve further next season, while the likes of Caicedo, Levi Colwill, Nicolas Jackson, Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk should increase their performance levels with more Premier League experience under their belts.

Gary O’Neil’s sacking as Cherries boss last summer came as a huge surprise after Premier League safety was secured for another season.

The Bournemouth hierarchy clearly had other plans for the direction of their club and that prominently included Iraola after he left his post at Rayo Vallecano.

Questions were being asked as Bournemouth sat 19th after nine games, but the Cherries surged impressively into mid-table.

Iraola’s side flourished as Solanke began to score regularly, and thoughts of Iraola being the wrong man at the helm were banished.

The Spaniard showed why Bournemouth appointed him as he was nominated for the Premier League Manager of the Season award and handed a new contract.

There was no winning farewell to 2023-24 for the Cherries, but there was the satisfaction of safety and season-long progress.

source – BBC

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