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First team

Stunning comeback takes Cherries to the top


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

A stunning second-half comeback saw AFC Bournemouth climb to the top of the Championship thanks to a thrilling 4-2 win over previous leaders Reading.

Dominic Solanke's double and goals from Arnaut Danjuma and Lewis Cook helped Jason Tindall’s team turn the tide as they clawed back a 2-0 half-time deficit.

Goals at the start and end of the first half left the Cherries facing a mountain to climb as Reading reached the break leading 2-0.

Lucas Joao’s fourth-minute penalty, awarded following a foul by Asmir Begovic, put the visitors in front before Sone Aluko doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time.

Between the two goals, the Cherries enjoyed long periods of possession but were kept at arm’s length by a well-drilled Reading defence.

And when it was breached, goalkeeper Rafael was on hand to make smart saves to deny David Brooks and Junior Stanislas.

However, a stirring start to the second half saw Tindall’s team score twice in the space of three minutes to restore parity.

Firstly, Reading-born Solanke arrived inside the six-yard box to apply the finishing touch to an excellent cross from Lloyd Kelly in the 56th minute.

And Danjuma’s finely-taken goal, his fifth of the season, owed much to a brilliant through ball from David Brooks.

The pick of the bunch came from Lewis Cook whose majestic 25-yard effort deserved to win any game.

But Solanke had the final say when he robbed Rafael on the edge of the box and fired high into an empty net.

Skipper Steve Cook returned to the Cherries starting line-up as boss Jason Tindall made one change following the 3-1 win at Birmingham ahead of the international break.

Steve Cook, who served a one-match ban at St Andrew’s, replaced Chris Mepham, who was given a breather after his exertions for Wales in the Nations League.

Midfielder Lewis Cook was declared fit to start after being forced off against Birmingham, having taken a heavy blow to his shin which required stitches.

Reading were awarded a penalty after referee Darren Bond deemed Begovic had upended Alfa Semedo who jinked his way into the six-yard box.

Begovic, who was booked for the foul, guessed correctly and dived to his right but was unable to keep out Joao’s fourth-minute spot-kick as it arrowed into the bottom corner.

As the Cherries went in search of a quick response, Arnaut Danjuma slipped between two defenders and saw his fierce drive blocked by Michael Morrison.

Reading appealed in vain for a second penalty after Aluko had crumpled under a challenge from Lloyd Kelly but referee Bond was unmoved.

Semedo squandered a good opportunity to double the visitors’ lead when he headed wide of the target following a cross from Omar Richards after 13 minutes.

Reading were indebted to Rafael for keeping out Brooks’s strike after the playmaker had looked to finish a sweeping move, the goalkeeper parrying the Wales international’s effort.

Kelly made a timely tackle to nick the ball off the toes of Ovie Ejaria before Aluko’s free-kick from a dangerous position drifted harmlessly out of play.

Jack Stacey required a lengthy spell of treatment after going down under a challenge from Richards and was able to continue following the stoppage.

Lerma headed Brooks’s 37th-minute corner over the top, with two further flag-kicks towards the end of the first half coming to nothing for the hosts.

The Royals doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Aluko applied an assured finish to a slide-rule pass from Ejaria.

In added time at the end of the first half, Rafael dived full-length to his right to keep out Stanislas’s free-kick from 30 yards.

Diego Rico made way for Mepham at the interval, with a second free-kick from Stanislas charged down by the Reading wall ten minutes into the second period.

The Cherries halved the arrears through Solanke in the 56th minute, the striker sweeping home Kelly’s cross which fizzed invitingly across the face of the goalmouth.

And just three minutes later, the hosts were on level terms when Danjuma fastened on to Brooks’s defence-splitting pass before finishing with aplomb past Rafael.

Begovic raced off his line to smother at the feet of Aluko before the Cherries goalkeeper saved comfortably from Joao.

Lewis Cook’s stunning 25-yarder left Rafael clutching at Dorset air as it whistled into the top corner to give the Cherries the lead 13 minutes from time.

Begovic pulled off a top-drawer save to keep out Joao’s bullet header following a corner in the closing stages.

Solanke wrapped up the victory in the dying seconds when he robbed Rafael of possession on the edge of the box before firing into an unguarded net.

But there was still time for Begovic to make another outstanding stop when he kept out Michael Olise's piledriver.

AFC Bournemouth: Begovic, Stacey, S Cook, Kelly, Rico (Mepham, h-t), Stanislas (Riquelme, 78), Lerma (Ofoborh, 90), L Cook, Danjuma, Solanke, Brooks (Simpson, 83). Unused subs: Gosling, Surridge, Kilkenny, Anthony, Travers (g/k).

Booked: Begovic, Danjuma, Lerma.

Reading: Rafael, Esteves (Holmes, 63), Morrison, Moore, Richards, Laurent, Rinomhota, Aluko (Olise, 63), Semedo (Baldock, 80), Ejaria (Meite, 74), Joao. Unused subs: Gibson, Tetex, Watson, Southwood (g/k).

Booked: Rinomhota.

Referee: Darren Bond.

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