Here was the festive delight of a first win in seven for Bournemouth, one that returned them to the summit of the Championship for the first time since November 20.
But also for Scott Parker the comfort and joy of a dominant performance against a Queens Park Rangers team who, like them, have Premier League aspirations.
Really, the Cherries should have won by three or four against hosts who hadn’t played at all since December 5 and certainly looked rusty for the time off.
Dominic Solanke put Bournemouth ahead with a glanced header four minutes before half-time
The Cherries dominated much of the first hour, with Solanke (left) influential for the visitors
Queens Park Rangers (3-4-2-1): Dieng; Dickie, Dunne, Barbet; Kakay (Adomah 70), Field, Johansen (c), Wallace (Gray 70); Chair (Dozzell 46), Willock; Dykes
Substitutes not used: Archer (GK); Amos, Austin, Thomas
Manager: Mark Warburton
Booked: Field, Dozzell, Barbet
Sent off: Dozzell 90+8
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Travers; Stacey, Cahill (c), Mepham. Zemura; Lerma, L Cook (Pearson 90+1); Christie (Lowe 82), Billing, Stanislas (Anthony 60); Solanke
Substitutes not used: Nyland (GK); Marcondes, Brady, Kilkenny
Manager: Scott Parker
Scorer: Solanke 41
Booked: Christie, Billing, Solanke, Mepham, Pearson
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)
Attendance: 16,308 (2,746 away)
Dominic Solanke’s 18th goal of another wonderfully prolific second-tier campaign proved enough in the end as Bournemouth leapfrogged Fulham, knocked out of action by Covid on Boxing Day.
It signalled the end of a barren run of results – three defeats and three draws – dating back to a 4-0 win over Swansea on November 6.
Every side that wins promotion from the Championship goes through a sticky patch at some point and Parker will hope Bournemouth’s is now out of the way.
‘We’re top of the league,’ sang 2,700 travelling fans from the south coast. The mission now is to stay there with the likes of Blackburn creeping up.
QPR remain on the fringes of the play-off places and have games in hand but struggled to create anything of note here. They were left aggrieved at a couple of decisions that went against them in the lead-up to Solanke’s winner but really could have few complaints.
They ended the game with 10 men after Andre Dozzell picked up a second yellow card for his role in a melee sparked when Solanke and Yoann Barbet tangled, with more and more players drawn into the argument.
Earlier, the match had taken over 20 minutes to offer up anything. Parker’s side were more than happy to soak up any early Rangers pressure before springing forward.
The hosts failed to muster much at all early on, with Ilias Chair curling a free-kick harmlessly into the wall and then testing Mark Travers for the first time with a weak low shot.
That moment sparked Bournemouth into life. Junior Stanislas saw a tame effort from outside the box saved by Seny Dieng, before the Rangers keeper touched his more demanding free-kick over the bar.
Ilias Chair of QPR takes a free kick for Queens Park Rangers in front of the Bournemouth wall
But a golden chance arrived on the half-hour and it was one Solanke normally gobbles up.
Stanislas and Jordan Zemura combined down the left before the former slid a pass into Philip Billing, who’d made a smart run inside the QPR box.
His scooped cross cleared Dieng and found Solanke at the perfect height only three or four yards out. But with an unguarded net to nod into, the usually prolific striker somehow sent it over.
A swift Bournemouth counter a couple of minutes later led to Ryan Christie shooting at Dieng from a tough angle and there was no doubt as to the superior team.
They looked by far the more likely to break the deadlock and duly did on 41 minutes. The locals weren’t too happy about the free-kick that led to Solanke’s swift atonement from the missed sitter.
A tackle by Zemura on Sam Field were unpunished just before Field brought down Jefferson Lerma by the touchline and received a yellow card for his troubles.
Stefan Johansen of QPR crosses the ball but the Hoops struggled in front of goal
Stanislas whipped the ball in and Solanke broke free of his marker to score with a glancing header. The home fans reserved plenty of vitriol for referee Keith Stroud as he walked off at half-time.
Chair tends to be QPR’s chief creative threat so it didn’t help their cause that he was withdrawn at the break having picked up a knock. It will be just as much a concern for Morocco with the Africa Cup of Nations imminent.
Solanke soon had another sniff of goal, played through smartly from a free-kick but unable to squeeze the ball home from a tight angle.
Parker introduced Jaidon Anthony on the hour mark and he was soon involved as Bournemouth pushed hard for a second.
It wasn’t quite the immediate impact the young winger envisaged, however, as he missed an open net at the back post after Jack Stacey’s cross evaded everyone.
Bournemouth boss Scott Parker will be relieved to see the end of a six-match winless run
Solanke then found himself in the clear once again but couldn’t direct his shot around Dieng, who’d come out off his line.
With 17 minutes, Solanke was slid clear down the left and raced into the box, with Dozzell’s sliding block required to prevent him settling the contest. Still Bournemouth pushed. Dieng pushed aside a curling effort by Christie.
The minutes ticked down with some belated QPR pressure. There were howls for a penalty when Stefan Johansen went down under light pressure from Anthony.
Stroud waved the appeal away, cementing his status as the villain of the piece. Jefferson Lerma then blocked crucially to deny Chris Willock.
Dozzell didn’t make it to the final whistle, Stroud making himself even more unpopular. QPR might have found their fight a bit earlier.