Bournemouth sealed a massive win in their last-ditch battle against relegation from the Premier League with unlikely talisman Dominic Solanke scoring twice in a game that breathes faint hope into their survival chances.
In the definitive ‘game of two halves’ Bournemouth had an epiphany on the back of a Schemichel error to score more goals in twenty minutes than they had managed in their previous 5 games since football returned. Eddies change to a five-man midfield for the second half and finally a number ten to feed the forwards also deserving of great credit.
There were three changes to this game – King nursing a hamstring gave way to Solanke, Stacey started for Smith and Danjuma came in for a tired Stan. The team though bore all the hallmarks of the insipid stretched out football riddled with uncertainty and mistakes that we have seen since the return. No cohesion, no bodies forward – just an incredibly dull passive display that showed no desire to stay up.
Leicester went ahead with a typical goal conceded by Bournemouth. Gosling tried to turn past two people which is not really his game and his control let him down almost as badly as his lack of effort to chase the ball back, not once but twice for VARDY to bundle home. Gosling deservedly hooked at half time as a result. The game nearly got out of reach but Ake made a phenomenal stretch to deny Vardy after Danjumas fatal back-pass (that also saw him hooked). Unfortunately for Ake, this was his last involvement with what looked like a stretched groin and he made way for Steve Cook.
The only moment of any entertainment for Bournemouth coming with a Solanke/Brooks interchange that saw the Welshman’s drive well saved by Schmeichel.
HT – Bournemouth 0 Leicester 1
Then started the remarkable second half. Eddie made a crucial change. He moved to a back three of Rico, Cook and Kelly, That gave him Stacey and sub Stanislas as wing-backs and Brooks moved into a genuine number ten slot to feed the front two. Finally – an attacking formation and it paid off handsomely as Bournemouth started to get serious numbers of players in an opposition box for the first time in two years.
It was an error that sparked the way but Eddie won’t be complaining – Schmeichel’s kick hit his own player, Ndidi, and Wilson pounced to be brought down by the same man. STANISLAS calmly chipped the ball down the middle to draw level.
Like London buses, after an interminable wait for the first, the second goal was not far behind. Another excellent Rico pass released SOLANKE on the left and he cut in and powered a shot that went in through Schmeichel’s legs and trickled over the line. A cherished first Premier League goal in Bournemouths colours. Crucially as well, as Wilson went to retrieve the ball he was mugged in the net by Soyuncu’s feet and arms and the visiting defender saw red. This sparked the football of a team reborn – playing high up the pitch with players between the lines and a constant swarm of bodies into the box. It was like Bournemouth of old and reminded us all why we used to love going!
Dreamland was close and became reached when a very influential Stanislas was found in acres of space with a superb Lewis Cook through ball and he fired in a low cross which went in off Evans for an own goal. The team still pressed high as it wasn’t set up tactically to defend and there was one more moment of magic that would have brought the house down had there been a house. Fuchs’s ball across the box lived up to his name as far as Leicester fans were concerned and SOLANKE nipped in, tricked his way past Evans with great feet before pausing and flicking the ball through Schmeichel’s legs for his second of the game – a goal born out of pure confidence.
There were two more moments of drama to come… but both passed without troubling the scorers. First Surridge, a late sub for Wilson, was released one on one and blasted narrowly over then Ramsdale pulled off a great save with his feet to deny Barnes a consolation.
FT Bournemouth 4 Leicester 1
MOTM against Leicester
Ramsdale 7 – Smart saves and handling
Stacey 6 – Quiet but solid performance
Ake 7 – Great goal-saving tackle – his last moment?
(Cook 7 – Faultless second half)
Kelly 7 – Patrolled Vardy well and recovered from the error
Rico 7 – Once again great passing and defensively strong.
Brooks 6 – Became more involved in the number ten role second half
Lerma 7 – Steady and strong performance – not pretty
Gosling 4 – Off-pace and dreadful mistake.
(Billing 7 – energy and presence)
Danjuma 4 – Not a wide midfielder
(Stanislas 8 – Continued his excellent spell of mastery)
Solanke 8 – Worked hard and finally got just rewards then blossomed.
Wilson 6 – Won the penalty and ran willingly but fairly blunt.
MOM – You would have to have a heart of stone not to give it to Dom. Walked off the pitch twice the player he walked onto it. Stan turned the game-play though.
I do wonder why Rico hasn’t started more games since the restart, he has such a vision for passes and creative play although he does lack some other defensive attributes it’s better than having your first choice right-back play out of position.
Wednesday – King in for Callum? Does Stacey keep his place? – Join the conversation, click here.