Eddie Howe’s 300th game in charge of AFC Bournemouth was one that he will never forget as his side recovered from 3-1 down to defeat Liverpool 4-3 at The Vitality Stadium to produce one of the Premier League‘s greatest ever comebacks.
The visitors were utterly dominant as they led 2-0 at half-time, thanks to Sadio Mane and Divock Origi, and they looked to be on course for a routine win when Emre Can put the Reds 3-1 in front.
However, Cherries substitute Ryan Fraser produced a Man of the Match performance to inspire his side’s extraordinary comeback. He won a penalty which Callum Wilson converted and scoring the hosts’ second goal before efforts from Steve Cook and Nathan Ake sealed a remarkable comeback on the South Coast.
The visitors produce a dominant first-half display
Heading into the match the Cherries were seeking their first win against Liverpool in their history, having lost seven of the nine meetings.
They had been involved in some close encounters last season, narrowly losing 1-0 at Anfield in both the Premier League and the League Cup before losing the league fixture at home 2-1 back in April of this year.
But this game was a stark contrast to the matches that had gone before between these two sides.
The first real chance of the game fell to Origi after a dominant opening 10 minutes display from the visitors. The Belgian striker, making his first league start of the season, just needed to get a definitive touch on the end of a dangerous low cross across the face of goal from Nathaniel Clyne, but the chance went begging as he put the ball wide.
Yet Liverpool’s dominance in the opening 20 minutes finally proved telling as Sadio Mane put the visitors in front. The Senegalese winger latched on to a sublime over-the-top through ball from Can, allowing him to slot home past Artur Boruc.
Liverpool took flight after opening the scoring, striking again just a couple of minutes later. Origi rounded goalkeeper Boruc and produced an exceptional finish from a wide angle as his shot across goal found the far inside netting to make it 2-0 to Jürgen Klopp’s side.
The Cherries continued to struggle to contain the Liverpool attack but had a slight reprieve after 35 minutes, when they earned their first corner of the game. After the ball was delivered, Bournemouth had a claim for a penalty as Ake appeared to be clipped by Roberto Firmino while on the turn in the area. Referee Robert Madley waved away the claims as Liverpool went in at half time in full control of the match.
Liverpool hand the Cherries a lifeline
10 minutes into the second-half and Bournemouth were handed the perfect opportunity to get back into the match as Liverpool gave away their first penalty of the season.
Fraser’s first involvement as a substitute after replacing the injured Junior Stanislas was to be brought down by James Milner on the edge of the area and there were no complaints from the England international as Madley awarded the home side a spot-kick.
Wilson converted a penalty at The Emirates last weekend in the 3-1 defeat against Arsenal and the striker did so once again here with a similar finish, sending Loris Karius the wrong way as the Cherries pulled a goal back.
Klopp’s men quash hopes of a Bournemouth comeback
The chances of a comeback from Bournemouth looked likely to be short-lived as Liverpool responded just eight minutes after that setback. Can produced a delightful first-time finish as he curled an effort into the top right-hand corner from the edge of the area to restore the visitors’ two-goal advantage.
However, with 20 minutes to go the home side were determined to get back into the game once more and went close as lively substitute Fraser forced Karius into a decent save after a fiercely struck half volley.
Bournemouth goalkeeper Boruc was then spared his blushes by goal line technology after he almost carried the ball over the goal-line in catching Milner’s corner kick delivery. The replay showed that the ball was just a couple of millimetres from crossing the line, though the Pole did well to keep his footing.
Two quick fire goals see Bournemouth level the score
With that scare put behind them Bournemouth struck back as game-changer Fraser sent Wilson on his way into the box with a through ball to break the back line. The striker was forced too wide to take the shot on himself and squared the ball to substitute Benik Afobe who could not get a meaningful touch, but Fraser could, as he slotted home to make it 3-2.
It got even better for the home side as they got the crowd at Dean Court rocking after Cook produced a first touch of the highest quality to control a pass which had been played behind him. The central defender then turned in the area and poked his shot low beyond Karius to pull the Cherries level out of nowhere.
With 10 minutes to go Bournemouth unbelievably almost found themselves in front as Afobe went through one-on-one with Karius, but the Liverpool ‘keeper got a strong right hand to the shot to make the crucial save and keep the scores level.
As the game, entered stoppage time Liverpool pressed for the winning goal and almost found it when Origi turned from a few yards out and struck his shot on the turn just over the bar. Moments later substitute Lallana drove forward but fired his powerful drive wide.
Ake scores in stoppage time to complete a remarkable comeback
Then, mid-way through added time, Cook fired an effort on the left hand side from outside the area which stung Karius’ palms – and the German could only bundle the ball out into the six-yard box.
The rebound was subsequently put away by Ake, who also scored the winner recently in Bournemouth’s away win at Stoke City. That completed the turnaround and resulted in the Cherries first-ever win over Liverpool, seeing the team climb back into the top half of the table and subsequently denying the Reds the chance to move back into second.