Manager Eddie Howe felt “work rate, passion and belief” had been key factors in ten-man AFC Bournemouth’s stirring 2-1 win over Aston Villa today.
The Cherries showed all their fighting qualities after playing most of the second half with a numerical disadvantage following the controversial dismissal of Jefferson Lerma.
First-half goals from Philip Billing, his first in the Premier League for the club, and Nathan Ake deservedly had the hosts in the ascendancy at the break.
But after Lerma had seen red for picking up a harsh second yellow card, the pendulum swung in favour of the visitors, with Ally Samatta’s 70th-minute goal setting up a grandstand finish.
However, Howe’s team were rewarded for digging deep as victory hoisted them two points clear of the relegation zone.
Asked at his post-match press conference how his pulse was, Howe quipped: “It was off the radar for a spell – it’s calmed down now!”
He added: “That’s one of the many beauties of football, the emotions attached to a game.
“I thought we had played so well until the sending off. We were really good and that was as good as we had played in a while.
“Then, the game changed and we had to show a different side to our abilities and I thought we just about did.
“I thought the red card changed everything and we felt a little hard done by with the decision.
“I thought Jeff was incredibly unlucky because there were other challenges in the game that didn’t get punished with a yellow card which were worse than that.
“We were in a good place at the time and looking to go 3-0 up and, suddenly, the game swung on that moment and I didn’t think it was justified.
“With that feeling and how the game had gone and the run of form we had been on, it was hugely important we got over the line and won the game. We don’t know whether it will define our season but it feels like a big moment now.”
Commenting on the atmosphere at Vitality Stadium, Howe said: “The supporters were absolutely brilliant. It reminded me of a Championship game when we were going for promotion. It was that kind of feeling.
“I think the supporters know we need them more than ever. In our Premier League history, this has probably been our most difficult period and I think they recognise that.
“They are a very intelligent group of supporters and they really backed the players today. That feeling of love for the players, they will have felt it and, hopefully, they will return it back to the supporters. It was a nice feeling around the ground.
“The passion we showed in the game has to be a more consistent thing. For me, that’s been one of the key things that’s been missing for some of our performances this season.
“But you saw it today and you saw how much the players care, you could see what they gave to that game. We know we have the ability, we just need to hit those heights of feeling and emotion as much as we can.
“We have shown we are still alive and kicking and we’ve got points to prove. We have a long, long way to go before we can turn round and say we’ve done anything. There are some tough games to come and nothing has been decided today. We are in there fighting and showing we want to be in the Premier League.
“When we show the work rate, passion and belief, we are a different team. For me, that’s probably the thing that’s been missing in the games we’ve dipped below where we want to be and it’s been incredibly frustrating to see.
“But you saw it today and it changed our performance totally. Today, the Chelsea game, the game against Brighton, you saw a team fighting and scraping for everything and that’s what we need to deliver again and again.”