Dominic Solanke continued his fine scoring form as Bournemouth beat Fulham to earn a fourth Premier League win in a row.
The Cherries went in front at the end of a scrappy first half when Justin Kluivert’s shot squirmed under Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno after a brilliant mazy run from Alex Scott to create the chance.
Solanke doubled the advantage from the penalty spot just past the hour mark, sending Leno the wrong way for his 12th league goal of the season after Antoine Semenyo was bundled over by Joao Palhinha.
It was the striker’s fifth goal in his last three matches, while the penalty was Bournemouth’s first in 65 games, ending a stretch of 609 days without a spot-kick.
Substitute Luis Sinisterra wrapped it up for Bournemouth with a stunner in stoppage time. The winger cut in from the left before firing an unstoppable shot into the top-right corner from 25 yards.
Fulham had rarely looked like getting back into the game and, to make matters worse after a third straight league loss without scoring, Leno could find himself in trouble after pushing a ball boy who he felt was taking too long to return the ball for a goal-kick.
The 31-year-old German apologised to the youngster for the gentle shove at the next break in play but was booed by home fans for the rest of the match.
Victory takes Bournemouth above Chelsea and into the top half, while Fulham stay 13th.
‘Leno out of order’
This was a hugely disappointing afternoon for Marco Silva’s visitors and it could yet end up costing them their goalkeeper for a time.
With Fulham trailing 2-0, Leno grew frustrated at what he deemed to be time-wasting from the ball boy and proceeded to snatch the ball from him and then put his palm into his chest.
“Bernd Leno is out of order,” former Everton striker Kevin Campbell said.
“He shouldn’t put his hand on the ball boy. The ball boys are told, if their team is winning, slow the game down. We all know this.
“Just go and grab the ball, you don’t need to put your hand on his chest.”
Leno had already been booked and his actions led to a furious reaction from the crowd, who voiced their disapproval every time he touched the ball from that moment on.
The goalkeeper later said sorry, first to the ball boy and then to the crowd, but he will have to wait to see if he faces any punishment for his actions.
“The ball boys were always delaying, Bernd wanted to play quickly and he took the ball from the ball boy,” Silva said
“He didn’t push him, it wasn’t strong enough and he apologised. He’s a top professional.”
Bournemouth maintain magnificent form
Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola watched the game from the stands as he served a one-match touchline ban and saw his side struggle for rhythm early on.
Both sides were sloppy in possession, but after half an hour the hosts began to settle. Once Kluivert put them in front a minute before the break, they were never in danger of dropping points.
“There are a lot of small things that are now clicking,” Iraola told Match of the Day.
“We know each other much better. Everyone is pushing. There is strong competition for minutes. It’s becoming tough for me to make the starting XIs, but it’s good for the team.”
Fulham had more possession in the second half but Bournemouth were able to keep them at arm’s length and without ever being at their best in possession, they were always comfortable.
Solanke confidently put away the penalty to give them a cushion and by the time Sinisterra rifled in the third, the victory had looked safe for some time.
The Cherries’ unbeaten run extends to seven top-flight games, six of them bringing wins, and they can head into their next two league fixtures against Tottenham and Liverpool filled with optimism.