Foxes hunted down by Cherries
- Stuart Attwell
AFC Bournemouth staged a stirring second-half comeback to keep alive their hopes of remaining in the Premier League.
The Cherries had been trailing at the break to Jamie Vardy’s 23rd-minute opener and were staring down the barrel of a potentially-disastrous defeat.
But the introduction of Junior Stanislas as a half-time substitute played a major role in Eddie Howe’s team turning the tide in the second half.
With relegation rivals Watford, West Ham and Aston Villa all winning, victory was crucial for the Cherries.
And two goals in the space of 101 seconds – Stanislas’s emphatic penalty and Dominic Solanke’s first top-flight effort since May 2018 – put the hosts in front midway through the second period.
To compound Leicester’s woes, defender Çağlar Söyüncü was sent off for kicking out at Callum Wilson as he retrieved the ball from the back of the net as the hosts celebrated Solanke’s strike.
A Jonny Evans own goal, the defender getting the final touch to Stanislas’s shot, and a second from Solanke – both coming in the last ten minutes – sealed a stunning victory.
Jack Stacey, Arnaut Danjuma and Solanke returned to the Cherries starting line-up as boss Howe made three changes following the 0-0 draw with Tottenham on Thursday.
Stacey replaced Adam Smith, who suffered concussion against Spurs, while Solanke came in for Joshua King, who was ruled out due to a minor hamstring complaint.
Winger Danjuma was handed his sixth start in the Premier League with Stanislas named among the Cherries substitutes.
Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers made one change following their 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Tuesday, defender Christian Fuchs coming in for Ryan Bennett, who dropped to the bench.
In the early stages, a stretching Callum Wilson failed to make good contact with a teasing cross from David Brooks before Söyüncü beat the Cherries striker to Diego Rico’s driven centre.
Dan Gosling was well placed to block Vardy’s eighth-minute strike and Nathan Ake cleared the danger after Marc Albrighton’s cross had been flicked into the danger zone by Kelechi Iheanacho.
Ayoze Perez’s clipped effort from an acute angle failed to trouble Aaron Ramsdale as it sailed wide of the woodwork before the Foxes were forced into an early change.
Albrighton, hurt in an innocuous challenge with Solanke, was unable to continue following a spell of treatment and was replaced by Bennett in the 16th minute.
Ramsdale smothered Vardy’s low cross as Iheanacho looked to pounce before the Cherries goalkeeper clutched the former England man’s deflected effort.
The visitors drew first blood midway through the opening period when Vardy bundled the ball home from close range to register his 23rd goal of the season.
Perez robbed Gosling of possession near the halfway line before working an opening with Iheanacho.
And Vardy reacted quickest and forced the ball into the back of the net from virtually on the line, beating Lloyd Kelly and Gosling after the Cherries had failed to deal with Iheanacho’s cross.
As the Foxes looked to double their lead, Ramsdale twice saved from Iheanacho before Gosling picked up the first booking of the contest for a late tackle.
Danjuma gifted the ball to Vardy after 37 minutes and only an heroic last-ditch block by Ake prevented the striker’s effort from reaching Ramsdale.
Ake’s crucial intervention came at a huge price, the Dutchman sustaining what looked like a groin injury which saw him replaced by Steve Cook five minutes before the break.
Wilfred Ndidi’s speculative 30-yard shot flew wide of the target before Kasper Schmeichel pulled off a fine save to push Brooks’s piledriver away for a corner on the stroke of half-time.
Ramsdale got a crucial touch to an inswinging cross from Fuchs as either Vardy or Evans looked to convert at the far post.
A raft of substitutions at the interval saw Gosling and Danjuma make way for Philip Billing and Stanislas, while Dennis Praet replaced Iheanacho.
The Cherries made an encouraging start to the second period and had claims for a penalty after Söyüncü had shoved Callum Wilson to the floor but referee Stuart Attwell was unmoved.
Ramsdale then saved comfortably from Perez after the midfielder had taken aim from the edge of the box.
A cross from Steve Cook just eluded Callum Wilson at the far post before Kelly blocked an effort from Youri Tielemans.
The Cherries were thrown a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty midway through the second period.
Schmeichel’s poor goal kick struck Ndidi on the back and rolled invitingly into the path of Callum Wilson.
But Ndidi took the law into his own hands and tripped the Cherries striker as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Referee Attwell had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Stanislas made no mistake from 12 yards, firing his effort straight down the middle.
The hosts forged ahead just seconds later when Solanke netted his first Premier League goal since he scored for Liverpool in March 2018.
Having latched on to Callum Wilson’s flick, Solanke finished with a right-footed shot which Schmeichel could only get a hand to and help into the net.
As Callum Wilson went to retrieve the ball from the back of the net, Söyüncü kicked out at the Cherries striker and was immediately shown the red card by referee Attwell.
Brooks was replaced by Lewis Cook ten minutes from time and the former Leeds midfielder had a huge hand in the Cherries’ third goal.
His crossfield pass sent Stanislas haring down the right flank and, after the winger had turned inside and taken aim, his effort struck Evans to wrong-foot Schmeichel.
The Cherries were in dreamland when Solanke added his second and their fourth three minutes from the end.
Gifted the ball by Fuchs’s stray pass, Solanke got the better of Bennett before threading the ball through Schmeichel’s legs to make it 4-1.
Substitute Sam Surridge went close to adding a fifth in injury-time, only to fire over the crossbar having fastened on to a ball from deep before Ramsdale saved from Harvey Barnes.