Rudy Gestede showed he is ready to fill the boots of Christian Benteke by netting the decisive goal as Aston Villa beat Bournemouth 1-0 at Dean Court.
The former Blackburn Rovers striker found the back of the net 13 minutes after coming on in the second half, powering a header home from a right-wing corner.
Bournemouth had impressed on their Premier League debut, but were left to rue Dan Gosling and Marc Pugh missing chances before the interval.
Idrissa Gueye went close to giving Villa a superb start in the second period, before fellow new signing Gestede – brought in following Benteke’s departure for Liverpool – secured three points with a debut goal on 72 minutes.
The introduction of Max Gradel gave Bournemouth a lift, but the Ivorian was unable to find a way through for Eddie Howe’s side as they were handed proof of the stiff task they face in the top flight.
Howe largely kept faith with the players who earned Bournemouth promotion last season and they enjoyed plenty of early possession, but their attempts to use the blistering pace of Joshua King – the only home player to be making his debut from the start – and Callum Wilson were easily dealt with by a resolute Villa defence.
The visitors, who handed five players their first start for the club, grew into the game as Bournemouth’s energetic start began to take its toll, with Jordan Amavi particularly impressive down the left with his surging runs.
Chances were few and far between for either side in the opening half-hour, but Bournemouth finished the first period strongly, spurning three opportunities to take the lead before the break.
Gosling was first to go close after 37 minutes as Villa failed to clear the ball, but the midfielder was unable to control his finish and the ball looped over the crossbar.
Wilson was finally released behind the Villa defence four minutes later only to be denied by the legs of Brad Guzan, and the American was on hand again in stoppage time to parry Pugh’s volley.
Bournemouth struggled to maintain their momentum early in the second half as Villa looked the more likely to break the deadlock, Gueye denied superbly by Artur Boruc.
Gabriel Agbonlahor found room on the right-hand side before picking out the Senegal international with a perfectly weighted pull back, but Boruc was quick to react and push his low shot away.
Still Villa continued to push and substitute Gestede should have done better with his first chance for Tim Sherwood’s side, dragging a volley wide nine minutes after coming on.
However, he made no mistake with 18 minutes to play as he snatched all three points for the visitors with a free header from Ashley Westwood’s corner.
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