Ibe and Gradel on target in Estoril win
AFC Bournemouth kicked off their pre-season campaign with a 2-1 victory over Estoril on Saturday.
Second half goals from substitutes Jordon Ibe and Max Gradel earned the Cherries a win over their Portuguese opponents, who had briefly levelled through midfielder Eduardo’s free-kick.
An even first period saw chances come and go at both ends.
With less than two minutes on the clock, Benik Afobe was inches away from getting his head to Andrew Surman’s diagonal lofted pass – as Estoril goalkeeper Thierry claimed it just in time.
Lys Mousset then teed up Connor Mahoney but the summer signing’s low 15-yard drive was tipped to safety by Thierry.
Estoril slowly found their feet and Cherries stopper Artur Boruc was called into action in the 12th minute, parrying forward Kleber’s angled shot.
But AFC Bournemouth were soon back on the front foot and even a drinks break failed to stop their flow, with Mousset glancing Ryan Fraser’s right-wing cross at Thierry.
With the break approaching, Boruc came to the Cherries’ rescue again, this time smothering Allano’s strike after possession had been lost inside the centre circle and a rapid break ensued.
And right on the stroke of half-time the action was back at the other end, with Charlie Daniels seeing a rising drive tipped over, and the resulting corner headed off target by Afobe.
Manager Eddie Howe made 11 changes at the interval and one of those – Ibe – drew yet another save out of Thierry within six minutes of the restart.
But the winger wasn’t to be denied again and soon after broke the deadlock, racing onto Gradel’s intelligent through ball, keeping his composure and slotting home.
Estoril were back on level terms just past the hour mark, however.
Referee Jose Maria Aranda awarded the Portuguese side a free-kick 25 yards out, after goalkeeper Adam Federici raced out of his penalty area and was adjudged to have handled.
And Estoril midfielder Eduardo stepped up to curl a brilliant left-footed effort over the wall and into the top corner, despite Federici’s despairing dive.
Parity lasted just six minutes though, with Gradel turning from provider to goalscorer.
A patient, passing move down the left suddenly saw the Ivorian burst into life, twisting away from three challenges, exchanging passes with Sam Surridge and then curling a shot into the far corner from a tight angle.
Gradel was catching the eye and threatened late on with a free-kick, but was unable to add to his tally as the Cherries ran out 2-1 winners.