No festive cheer for Cherries at Amex
- Paul Tierney
Goals from Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Aaron Mooy condemned AFC Bournemouth to their first league defeat by Brighton for almost 12 years.
Iran international Jahanbakhsh marked his first Premier League start of the season by bagging the opener after just three minutes at the Amex Stadium.
And Mooy, who had a hand in the first goal, doubled the hosts’ lead with a finely-executed second 11 minutes from time.
Albion’s first league win over the Cherries since New Year’s Day 2008 saw Eddie Howe’s team bring down the curtain on a momentous decade in disappointing fashion.
Boss Howe made five changes to his starting line-up with Junior Stanislas making a welcome return from a lengthy injury layoff.
The 30-year-old Londoner, who last featured against Fulham in April, had been sidelined for eight months due to hamstring and knee injuries.
Dominic Solanke, Diego Rico, Harry Wilson and Philip Billing also came in as the Cherries looked to build on their 1-1 draw with Arsenal two days ago.
Brighton captain Lewis Dunk returned to the Seagulls starting line-up and was one of no fewer than seven changes following their Boxing Day defeat at Tottenham.
The visitors made the worst possible start when they went behind inside the opening three minutes with Jahanbakhsh marking his first start of the season with a goal.
He finished with power and accuracy past Cherries goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale after a move involving Aaron Mooy and Neal Maupay had worked the opening.
The Iran international continued his lively start to the match by rattling the frame of the goal with a speculative cross-shot just three minutes later.
Brighton goalkeeper Maty Ryan dived to his left to keep out Joshua King’s effort after he had fastened on to an inch-perfect pass from Rico.
Steve Cook had his name taken by referee Paul Tierney for a foul on Maupay before Chris Mepham’s timely tackle prevented Mooy creating another opportunity.
And after the resultant corner had found its way to Jahanbakhsh, his strike from just outside the 18-yard box sailed over the crossbar.
As play quickly switched to the opposite end, a shooting chance presented itself to Solanke, only for Yves Bissouma to block the striker’s low drive.
King’s turn of pace saw him hare down the left flank and, after he had passed to Harry Wilson, his shot deflected off Dan Burn and into the grateful arms of Ryan.
Stanislas seized on the loose ball on the edge of the area, only for his effort to also take a deflection which gave Ryan another comfortable save.
Solanke’s delicate flick put Jack Stacey in behind the Seagulls defence five minutes before the break, but the defender’s cross was eventually cleared by the hosts.
Ramsdale raced off his line to snaffle Jahanbakhsh’s dangerous cross as Dunk prepared to pounce at the start of the second half.
Appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears after Solanke had gone to ground under a challenge by Dunk, the decision upheld by the video assistant referee.
Although the Cherries appeared to have paid a heavy price for failing to deal with Mooy’s 58th-minute free-kick which led to Burn netting, the visitors were reprieved.
Referee Tierney referred the goal to VAR and it was chalked off as a Brighton player had strayed marginally offside in the build-up.
Mooy looked to exact revenge for the decision when he took aim from 25 yards, his thunderous strike flashing past the upright.
Bissouma ran through unchallenged and saw his shot hit the base of the post, the follow up from Leandro Trossard deflected for a corner.
Another VAR check determined Stacey had not handle inside the penalty area after 75 minutes, much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
However, the hosts doubled their lead through Mooy 11 minutes from time, the Australian showing neat skill before curling a right-foot shot past Ramsdale from close range.
Ramsdale made an excellent save to deny Cherries old boy Glenn Murray in stoppage time, tipping his rasping effort away for a corner.