Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe hails Benik Afobe, overall team spirit
Eddie Howe praised his Bournemouth scorers as Benik Afobe landed a knockout blow to Swansea to all-but secure the Cherries' Premier League status next season.
After strike-partner Joshua King had hit nine goals in his last 10 league outings, Afobe took centre-stage to sink the Swans with a second-half strike after his earlier shot had been deflected past his own goalkeeper by the unwitting Alfie Mawson.
The 2-0 win, coupled with the fighting victory over West Ham last weekend in which King scored a hat trick, means Bournemouth now sit nine points clear of the bottom three.
Bournemouth dominated proceedings against a nervous Swansea outfit, who offered very little in attack despite the visitors being able to name Fernando Llorente as their main striker.
Afobe had only hit three goals before today but has been recalled into Howe's side in recent weeks and repaid the faith in his manager with a match-winning display.
"I am delighted for him, Afobe, as I was for Josh last week,'' Howe said of the former Arsenal youngster. "To have goalscorers doing their job and putting the ball in the net for us is massive, it's massive for any team.
"The confidence that you can score goals in any moment, that you have the ability to open up defences. I thought his second goal tonight was a really good finish at a big moment in the game.''
Howe's side had not kept a clean sheet in 2017 before today but he pinpointed a battling point at Manchester United a fortnight ago as the moment his players turned relegation form into back-to-back wins.
"There have been really positive steps for us in the last three games,'' he said. "Manchester United was a real turning point for us and then we have backed it up with the two home games that we knew were so important, especially with the fixtures we have to come.
"Full credit to the players because it is one thing knowing the importance of the games but actually going out and delivering a very good performance again tonight, our players were very impressive.
"We were going through a spell where everything that could go wrong was going wrong and the players hadn't changed, the mentality of the group hadn't changed which is the most important thing and I did feel that if we kept doing the right things then the results would turn."
For Swansea, this defeat followed a loss at fellow strugglers Hull last time out.
Manager Paul Clement conceded his side just were not at the races but will look to use Bournemouth's upturn in form as proof he can keep the Swans in the top flight.
"We did not do well enough,'' he said. "That is disappointing because we lost last week as well. Going into the first goal we were doing fine, the goal knocked the wind out of us again and overall it is a disappointing result.
"We would have wanted to run that much, much closer than we did. Clearly we needed more.
"We have to reflect on the bigger picture as well though, we started January rock-bottom. Bournemouth have just shown what can happen when you put two good home results together that gives them that little bit of breathing space.
"Now we play two home games and we have to respond quickly.''