Bournemouth moved nine points clear of the Premier League’s bottom three with a 2-0 victory over relegation rivals Swansea on Saturday night.
Eddie Howe’s side had addressed a slide in form with a vital win over West Ham last weekend and this success – courtesy of an Alfie Mawson own goal and a Benik Afobe strike – will go a long way to securing the Cherries’ top-flight status for another season.
The much-needed win over the Hammers was full of drama but, after the likes of Leicester and Crystal Palace picked up three points earlier in the day, this scrappy victory was just as important for Bournemouth.
Mawson was credited with opening the scoring for the hosts as Afobe’s tame shot hit the 23-year-old and squirmed past Lukasz Fabianski, before Afobe tucked away a second after the break.
Both sides were looking to get on top in the early stages, but it was Bournemouth, through Ryan Fraser, who came close with 10 minutes gone as the diminutive winger dragged a shot wide of a post.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s radar was slightly askew as he hit a Fernando Llorente flick over the bar before Afobe headed wide for Bournemouth.
Josh King has been in superb scoring form for the Cherries, hitting nine goals in his last 10 league outings, but the Norway international nearly put Swansea ahead as he inadvertently headed a Sigurdsson free-kick just inches wide of his own goal.
The forward, though, was involved in Bournemouth’s opener on the half-hour mark, beating Federico Fernandez to the ball before Marc Pugh played in Afobe, whose weak effort nicked off Mawson to wrong-foot Fabianski and roll into the net.
At the other end Artur Boruc then made a meal of turning a speculative Sigurdsson drive wide of the post as the hosts went in ahead at half-time.
Dan Gosling had the first decent chance after the interval, but his low drive was pushed behind for a corner.
Howe’s side began to dictate the tempo of the game and enjoyed several spells of possession, while always keeping the visitors at arm’s length, with Swansea unable to create any clear-cut chances.
Afobe made sure of the points as he collected a pass from King and, with Mawson slipping, got the ball out of his feet and finished into the corner.
Only a superb save from Fabianski kept Swansea in the game as the Poland international dived low to tip away King’s header from substitute Jack Wilshere’s delivery.
Bournemouth’s defensive credentials have been questioned in recent months, but they stayed firm here and in doing so kept their first clean sheet of 2017.
Victory helped lift the Cherries up to 12th in the table and eased any lasting fears of dropping out of the Premier League this season, but Paul Clement’s Swans remain in a battle for survival.