Crystal Palace scored twice from set pieces in the first half to beat Bournemouth 2-0 away in the Premier League on Saturday, banishing their Boxing Day blues and finishing the year on a high.
Jordan Ayew and Eberechi Eze both converted from corners at a rain-soaked Vitality Stadium as Palace put aside criticism from manager Patrick Vieira after Monday’s 3-0 loss to Fulham and posted a third win in their last five league fixtures.
Ayew had Palace ahead after 19 minutes as he rose unchallenged to glance his header wide of goalkeeper Mark Travers with Bournemouth guilty of ball watching as the corner came across.
It was the first goal of the season for the Ghana international as Palace created eight chances to none for Bournemouth in the opening 20 minutes.
Eze’s effort in the 36th minute was just as simple as a corner was cut back to him on the edge of the penalty area and, with no defender anywhere near him, he hammered the ball home to double the visitors’ lead.
The result kept Palace in 11th spot as they advanced to 22 points while Bournemouth slipped a place to 15th.
It was a third defeat for Bournemouth since returning from the World Cup break, during which time they appointed caretaker coach Gary O’Neil on a permanent basis and completed the sale of the club to a consortium called Black Knight Football Club, led by American businessman Bill Foley and actor Michael B Jordan.
Both were given a warm welcome by supporters before kickoff but will have quickly realised they need to spend to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window or prepare for a battle against relegation in the coming months.
O’Neil was on the bench despite having struggled with illness on the eve of the match after a virus swept through the Bournemouth camp this week.
But if he was still feeling grim, his players would have exacerbated his condition as they turned in a lethargic first half performance.
It was better after the break for the home side but they only threatened to score when Dominic Solanke forced a sharp save from Palace’s goalkeeper Vicente Guaita in the 53rd minute.
Palace could have extended the scoreline in the final 15 minutes with chances for both Wilfried Zaha and substitute Odsonne Edouard.