Cherries lose Lazio roller coaster
- Peter Bankes
AFC Bournemouth lost a topsy-turvy match 4-3 against visiting Italian side Lazio, in the first pre-season at Vitality Stadium.
Joaquin Correa fired the Biancocelesti into a 14th-minute lead, only for Jefferson Lerma to level with a stunning strike just six minutes later.
Dominic Solanke netted with a header to maintain his impressive pre-season form as the Cherries regained the lead in the 31st minute.
A moment of controversy saw an effort from Ciro Immobile chalked off after the video assistant referee had intervened having seen a handball in the build-up.
Although the Cherries reached the break in the ascendancy, two goals in quick succession from Luis Alberto and Marc Parolo saw Lazio regain the lead early in the second half.
Correa added his second and the visitors’ fourth with 15 minutes remaining before Jack Stacey reduced the arrears to set up a grandstand finish.
Defender Charlie Daniels made a welcome return for the Cherries having recovered from a knee injury which he sustained in training in April.
He was joined in the Cherries starting line-up by summer recruit Stacey who took to the Vitality Stadium pitch for the first time since signing from Luton Town.
Lazio were quickly out of the blocks and Alberto dragged his shot wide of the target after some neat footwork from winger Correa had created an opening inside the first two minutes.
Lazio had an escape after goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha had blasted his clearance straight at teammate Francesco Acerbi, the ball bouncing narrowly past the upright and out for a corner.
Jefferson Lerma’s superb pass sent Jordon Ibe clear in the eighth minute, the winger firing inches past the post having let fly from the edge of the box.
Strakosha saved comfortably from Ryan Fraser before Dom Solanke then capitalised on some ponderous defending, although the striker’s fierce drive was charged down.
Matt Butcher did well to head clear a dangerous cross from Manuel Lazzari before the visitors drew first blood through Correa in the 14th minute.
The Argentine forward squeezed the ball home from the tightest of angles after Ciro Immobile’s delicate pass had spilt the Cherries defence.
But the lead lasted just six minutes as Lerma fired the Cherries back on level terms after Jack Simpson had seized on a poor clearance from Acerbi.
Simpson found Andrew Surman who threaded a pass to Lerma, the Colombian powerhouse unleashing a low right-foot drive from the edge of the box which beat Strakosha all ends up.
The Cherries were then indebted to Mark Travers for keeping the scoreline level, the big goalkeeper using his frame to keep out Milan Badelj’s effort from close range.
Travers also had to react smartly to beat away Lazzari’s venomous pot-shot midway through the first half after Badelj’s crossfield pass had set up the opportunity.
Solanke stole in at the far post to head the Cherries into the lead after 31 minutes, with Lazio paying a heavy price for failing to deal with Fraser’s hanging centre.
The striker timed his run to perfection and nodded the ball into an unguarded net after Fraser’s cross had eluded two defenders.
Travers was equal to a thunderous strike from Correa, the Irishman standing his ground and punching away the Argentine’s shot from 20 yards.
Lazio were convinced they had levelled after 34 minutes, only for Immobile’s effort to be chalked off after the video assistant referee had spotted a handball in the build up.
Another top-drawer stop from Travers prevented Immobile from restoring parity, the goalkeeper saving with his legs and seeing the ball bounce on top of the crossbar and away to safety as an eventful opening period drew to a close.
Asmir Begovic replaced Travers at the interval and was soon picking the ball out of the back of his net after Alberto had fired home to make it 2-2 in the 48th minute.
And although Begovic saved well from Lazzari, he was powerless to prevent Parolo nodding Lazio into a 56th-minute lead with Stefan Radu supplying the cross.
Chances were at a premium for the Cherries in the second half and Howe’s team fell further behind when Correa turned sharply in the box before guiding the ball past the outstretched hand of Begovic.
Stacey fastened on to a neat cut-back from Ibe and rifled into the roof of the net to register his first goal for the club eight minutes from time.
Although the Cherries went in search of a late equaliser, they were unable to find a way through.