Date with Palace ends in defeat
- Stuart Attwell
First-half goals from Luka Milivojevic and Jordan Ayew condemned AFC Bournemouth to defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace tonight.
Eddie Howe’s team recommenced their Premier League campaign following lockdown and were looking to hit the ground running at Vitality Stadium.
And the hosts were hoping to put on a show in front of the BBC cameras, the clash being the first top-flight encounter to be broadcast live since 1988.
But the Eagles reached the interval two goals to the good thanks to Milivojevic’s stunning free-kick and a well-taken effort from Ayew.
Although the Cherries upped the tempo in the second half, their efforts were thwarted by a well-drilled Palace outfit.
On a day of high drama in the Premier League, the Cherries briefly climbed out of the bottom three after Ben Chilwell had given Leicester a late lead at Watford in the lunchtime kick-off.
But the Hornets lifted themselves back above Howe’s team when Craig Dawson netted in the third minute of added time to rescue them a share of the spoils from a 1-1 draw.
Later, Neal Maupay scored Brighton’s winner five minutes into added time as they beat Arsenal 2-1, while Wolves registered a 2-0 victory at West Ham.
David Brooks made a welcome return to the Cherries starting line-up having spent almost 14 months on the sidelines due to a troublesome ankle injury.
The Wales international, who netted seven goals in the Premier League last season, sustained ligament damage during a friendly at Brentford in July.
His last action in the top flight came during the Cherries’ eventful 3-3 draw with Southampton at St Mary’s in April 2019.
Brooks was one of three changes made by manager Eddie Howe following the Cherries’ final game before lockdown, a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool 105 days ago.
Harry Wilson and Joshua King also returned to the starting line-up, while Steve Cook, who was injured early on at Anfield, kept his place having regained his fitness.
Lloyd Kelly, Arnaut Danjuma and Chris Mepham were named among the Cherries’ nine substitutes having recovered from their respective injuries.
Brooks, who underwent two operations during his absence, showed some lovely footwork in an attempt to work an opening, only to run the ball out of play after five minutes.
Wilfried Zaha fashioned the first shooting chance after 11 minutes, the Ivorian winger firing over the crossbar from an acute angle.
However, after Brooks had been judged by referee Stuart Attwell to have fouled Zaha, the Eagles drew first blood just 60 seconds later.
Palace skipper Milivojevic despatched a majestic free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards with Aaron Ramsdale getting a hand to his effort but unable to keep it out.
Callum Wilson went close to replying for the hosts, his glancing header from Brooks’s whipped cross just clearing the crossbar.
The Cherries were left with a mountain to climb when the visitors doubled their lead through Ayew midway through the first half.
Ghana international Ayew side-footed past Ramsdale from around 12 yards after being picked out by Patrick van Aanholt’s low cross.
As the Cherries looked to find a way back into the contest, they found a well-drilled Palace rearguard difficult to break down.
Ayew received a yellow card for a foul on Jefferson Lerma before Adam Smith quickly joined him in the book for a late challenge on Zaha.
Despite edging the possession statistics in the first half, the Cherries failed to test Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita with none of their four shots finding the target.
A switch at the break saw Danjuma replace Harry Wilson, the Dutchman thrust into the fray for his first taste of Premier League action since December.
Just two minutes into the second half, Gary Cahill’s robust tackle on King prompted a VAR review with the Palace defender’s challenge deemed to have been fair.
However, King felt the full force as Cahill followed through on his ankle and was unable to continue, the Norway international replaced by Dominic Solanke.
Although Lewis Cook’s speculative low drive had Guaita scurrying across his line, the Palace goalkeeper was able to watch it flash past the post.
Brooks made way for Junior Stanislas after 61 minutes as boss Howe made his third substitution of the game.
And Stanislas supplied the corner which was met by a powerful header from Nathan Ake, the defender’s effort flying straight into the palms of Guaita.
Ake required a spell of treatment after clashing heads with Cahill but was able to retake the pitch.
Either side of both Cook and Joel Ward receiving rather harsh bookings, Solanke’s scuffed shot drifted wide.
Cahill’s volley after 73 minutes sailed high over the crossbar before Stanislas’s curling effort flew wide of Guaita’s upright.
Cook survived a VAR review following a clash with Cheikhou Kouyate in injury time.