At half-time in their Premier League match against Leicester City on Sunday evening, things looked bleak for Bournemouth. The team that has been in the top-flight since being promoted for the first time in their history five years ago, looked set to join already relegated Norwich City back in the Championship next season.
They began the game on 28 points in 19th place in the table, and, with the three sides above them having all won over the weekend, they knew that they needed a victory to keep their hopes alive. However, they conceded a 23rd minute goal to the Leagues leading scorer, Jamie Vardy, and lost arguably their best player, defender Nathan Ak, to a season-ending injury before half-time.
To use q boxing analogy, they had been knocked to the canvas and were being counted out.
However, then Leicester, who are chasing a Champions League place, decided that it was time to act like Santa Claus and hand out Christmas presents early to the beleaguered home side.
First, they gave Bournemouth a penalty, when goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel inexplicably through a clearance into the back of his own player, Wilfred Ndidi, and, in the resultant scramble, brought down an onrushing Bournemouth full-back. Junior Stanislas scored from the spot.
One minute later, Leicester allowed Dominic Solanke, a man who had failed to find the net in his previous 38 Premier League appearances for Bournemouth to score, although Schmeichel could have done more to keep it out. To make matters worse for the visitors, their Turkish defender Caglar Syunc kicked-out at Callum Wilson as the pair wrestled to retrieve the ball from the net and was sent off.
Nor did their generosity end there. Bournemouth scored a third after Leicester defender Jonny Evans diverted a cross into his own net, and then Solanke scored a second after a poor pass from Christian Fuchs.
Bournemouth have now climbed above Aston Villa, with three matches to play against Manchester City, Southampton, and Everton. Their chances of survival are still slim, and they cannot expect the teams they have yet to face to hand out so many gifts. However, at least they still have a chance.
As for Leicester, they may live to regret their 45 minutes of madness. They had not been outside the top three since September, but have now dropped to fourth, and Manchester United have a game in hand on them in the quest to see who will play in the Champions League next season.