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EUROPEAN DREAM

Europe ‘possible’ for Palace next season, says Milivojevic

We are not far from it and the last few seasons we have been looking behind — Milivojevic

In Summary

• Palace took the lead when Milivojevic curled in a 12th-minute free-kick before Jordan Ayew swept home a second after 23 minutes.

• Given the fact Bournemouth have not taken a single point away from home in 2020 it is clear the Vitality is their best hope of survival — but not on this evidence.

Bournemouth's Dominic Solanke in action with Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic
Bournemouth's Dominic Solanke in action with Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic
Image: /REUTERS

 

European football ‘is possible’ next season, says Crystal Palace skipper Luka Milivojevic after helping his side to a comfortable victory over strugglers Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

In the first top flight game shown live on BBC TV since 1988, Roy Hodgson’s side moved into the top 10 and left the mediocre Cherries in the relegation zone. The Eagles are now just four points adrift of fifth-placed Manchester United, who currently occupy a Europa League spot for next season.

Milivojevic told BBC One: “We are not far from it and the last few seasons we have been looking behind.

“It was a perfect night for us, we cannot have imagined a better beginning after a big break. Three points and clean sheet, I am very proud of the boys It is not easy to continue after a break but it is great tonight to come here against a good team to win 2-0 and so I’m happy to be honest.”

Palace took the lead when Milivojevic curled in a 12th-minute free-kick before Jordan Ayew swept home a second after 23 minutes.

Palace saw out the victory in comfort as Bournemouth failed to mount any sort of serious pressure, to leave manager Eddie Howe and his side in serious trouble at the foot of the Premier League.

Howe has received lavish praise for his work at Bournemouth over the years ­— but he has hit a brick wall as old problems are haunting The Cherries this season.

Bournemouth, at their best, are pleasing on the eye and can pull off the occasional shock as they did in winning at Chelsea in December, but too often they are simply too soft and too easy to score against. And in their first game since the resumption of the Premier League, Bournemouth looked the same old side, one destined for relegation.

Howe has had long enough to solve the issues Bournemouth have faced but this game once again illustrated the problems he has failed to solve.

He now has the added problem of one of his best attacking players, Ryan Fraser, having taken himself out of the equation by announcing he would not extend his contract beyond 30 June, thus finishing his Bournemouth career.

Given the fact Bournemouth have not taken a single point away from home in 2020 it is clear the Vitality is their best hope of survival — but not on this evidence.

Howe has a big reputation. Now he must justify it. Roy Hodgson is nowhere near as fashionable as Eddie Howe - and it was understandable he received so much criticism following his England failure in the last 16 in Euro 2016.

There is no question, however, that Hodgson is in his element at Palace, building a side that is solid in defence, dangerous in attack and solid enough to ensure Premier League stability.

This win leaves Palace sitting comfortably in the top 10 and the goals, from Milovjevic’s free-kick and Jordan Ayew’s sweeping finish, showed exactly what they are about.

Hodgson may have his critics for his previous work with Liverpool and England, but when his efforts at the likes of Fulham and West Bromwich Albion are examined, it is no surprise what an excellent job he is doing at his boyhood club.