Bournemouth moved to the top of the Championship as two goals in each half saw them ruthlessly defeat Barnsley.
In an open game with several chances at both ends, the Cherries led when Philip Billing found the bottom corner with a low strike from 20 yards.
The hosts should have levelled, but defender Mads Andersen could not sort out his feet in time to divert Michal Helik’s effort in from two yards, and were punished as Dominic Solanke doubled Bournemouth’s lead with a run and near-post finish on the stroke of half-time.
Diego Rico made it 3-0 with a fine free-kick which caught out Barnsley keeper Jack Walton – who expected a cross – with Sam Surridge capitalising on an error to complete the scoring with a shot that Walton should have kept out.
Victory moves Jason Tindall’s side two points clear of Norwich, who will regain top spot if they beat Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Barnsley, meanwhile, drop a place to 15th as their goal difference took a dent at Oakwell against a Bournemouth side displaying the clinical edge they lacked in the Premier League last season.
The Cherries – beaten at home by Preston on Tuesday – should have led in the opening minutes but Surridge shot wide with an open goal, albeit at an angle, after beating the onrushing Walton to a ball into the channel.
Alex Mowatt forced Asmir Begovic into a decent save from range as the Tykes carried a threat, but they gave Denmark midfielder Billing too much space to pick his spot for the opener after Adam Smith had carried the ball forward for the visitors.
In many ways Valerien Ismael’s Barnsley were architects of their own downfall – striker Cauley Woodrow gave the ball away in his own half for Solanke’s well-taken second, Andersen conceded a needless free-kick which led to Bournemouth’s third and Herbie Kane inexplicably played in Surridge with a wayward pass which was also duly punished.
A Woodrow snapshot was tipped wide by Begovic and Luke Thomas curled wide as the home side threatened from outside the box in the second half but Bournemouth – now the Championship’s joint leading scorers with 29 goals alongside Blackburn – kept their first away clean sheet since winning 1-0 at Chelsea in December 2019.
Bournemouth boss Jason Tindall:
“We knew we needed to respond after a disappointing result against Preston and I felt we certainly we did that tonight.
“We knew if we won here tonight, we’d go to the top of the league. That was a challenge and that was what we managed to do.
“Tonight was not about any one individual. I thought it was a great team performance at a really difficult place in difficult conditions.”
Barnsley head coach Valerien Ismael:
“We made too many mistakes and the opponent punished us. Bournemouth is one of the best teams in the division.
“We played well, created a lot of situations and pressed very well, but the mistakes destroyed our chance to win the game.
“I think we have to analyse the game but not be over-critical. This is our position and if you want to reach the next step, we have to improve.