Cherries do the double over the Villa
- Anthony Taylor
A stirring first-half showing laid the foundations for AFC Bournemouth to register a thrilling 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Vitality Stadium today.
Goals from Philip Billing, his first for the club in the Premier League, and Nathan Ake capped a dominant opening 45 minutes from the hosts.
However, the controversial sending off of linchpin midfielder Jefferson Lerma early in the second half threatened to undo all the good work.
Lerma saw red for collecting two yellow cards for fouls on Jack Grealish, the second of which seemed incredibly harsh.
But although Ally Samatta reduced the arrears with 20 minutes remaining, the Cherries defended superbly to complete the double over Villa.
Boss Eddie Howe made one change to the team which recorded a 3-1 win over Brighton in the Premier League 11 days ago.
Dan Gosling celebrated his 30th birthday by returning to the starting line-up, the midfielder replacing Dom Solanke who was named among the Cherries substitutes.
Villa handed a Premier League debut to new signing Ally Samatta, the striker having started their Carabao Cup semi-final, second leg win over Leicester in midweek.
Samatta, who joined from Racing Club Genk, was one of two changes to the Villa starting line-up with Douglas Luiz coming in for Danny Drinkwater.
The hosts made an encouraging start and went close to breaking the deadlock when Philip Billing’s 20-yard strike was saved low down by Pepe Reina after eight minutes.
Appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears after Gosling had been blocked by former Cherries defender Tyrone Mings, but referee Anthony Taylor was unmoved.
Ryan Fraser’s pot-shot was comfortably gathered by Villa goalkeeper Reina as the Cherries continued to dominate the opening skirmishes.
Frederic Guilbert escaped unpunished after scything down Fraser but Jefferson Lerma received a booking for a foul on Jack Grealish.
Grealish fashioned Villa’s first shooting chance after 20 minutes, the midfielder firing wide after stepping in from the left flank.
Harry Wilson’s free-kick from 30 yards deflected off the top of Samatta’s head in the Villa wall and landed in the grateful hands of Reina.
The Spanish stopper then had to hare off his line to beat Fraser to Harry Wilson’s through ball before Guilbert lifted his shot over the crossbar from Anwar El Ghazi’s cross.
Gosling arrived to meet Harry Wilson’s low cross midway through the first half, the midfielder clipping his effort over the top from close range.
Grealish’s dangerous centre drifted narrowly past Aaron Ramsdale’s left-hand post before Simon Francis’s timely interception prevented Samatta from taking aim.
Mings was booked for clipping Fraser’s ankle, a free-kick which, ultimately, led to the Cherries taking the lead through Billing in the 36th minute.
Although Rico’s initial delivery eluded everyone, Francis recycled the ball near the touchline and crossed from the right.
And his centre to the far post was met by Gosling who nodded the ball back into the danger zone where Billing was on hand to sweep it past Reina.
A swift break by the Cherries, involving Fraser and Harry Wilson, was ended when Luiz unceremoniously upended Lerma to concede a free-kick and earn a booking.
And again the Cherries took full advantage, doubling their lead on the stroke of half-time through Ake.
Although Harry Wilson’s free-kick was charged down, Fraser was first to the loose ball and tried his luck from distance, with Reina only able to push the ball away.
Ake reacted quickest and displayed all the predatory instincts of a proven Premier League marksman to finish emphatically from around six yards.
And after a review by the video assistant referee had deemed Ake had not strayed offside in the lead up to the goal, home supporters were able to celebrate.
As a pulsating first half drew to a close, Ramsdale had to be alert at his near post to save from Villa dangerman Grealish who shot from an acute angle.
A sustained spell of pressure early in the second half ended with Lerma clipping the crossbar with a 25-yard piledriver.
The Colombian midfielder was controversially shown a second yellow card for little more than a coming-together with Grealish just five minutes after the break.
Mings was then extremely fortunate to escape a second booking for cynically hauling back Callum Wilson in full view of referee Taylor who deemed it a foul but not a yellow card.
Callum Wilson slipped in front of his marker to meet Fraser’s driven cross at the near post, only to see his effort flash past the upright.
And as play quickly switched to the opposite end, Adam Smith was forced to clear off the line from Matt Targett who got on the end of Grealish’s cross.
Villa halved the arrears through Samatta who headed over the onrushing Ramsdale in the 70th minute after Keinan Davis’s blocked shot had looped invitingly for him.
As the visitors went in search of a quick second, Ramsdale saved with his shins after substitute Davis had burst through before the same player headed over when well placed.
Mings also nodded over the top after meeting a Grealish centre before Fraser went close to adding a third deep into stoppage time following a cross from Callum Wilson.