Jordon Ibe turned in a star performance from the bench, setting up both goals as Bournemouth got off the mark in the Premier League this season with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Bournemouth’s spluttering, pointless start to the campaign had been masked by higher-profile malaises at the likes of Crystal Palace and Arsenal, whose 3-0 thrashing of Eddie Howe’s men last week had laid bare the Cherries’ flaws.
But they avoided matching the relegated 2005-06 Sunderland and 2009-10 Portsmouth, who both lost their first five games of the season, thanks to goals from Andrew Surman and Jermain Defoe at the Vitality Stadium.
Solly March had put Brighton ahead, with the Seagulls’ sharp counter-attacking initially looking like paying dividends.
But Surman’s maiden Premier League goal and Defoe’s first Bournemouth strike since a teenage loan spell 18 seasons ago secured precious points for Howe and vindicated the decision to sign the former Sunderland marksman.
The performance of Ibe, however, was one to savour as he turned in the best showing of his timid Bournemouth career to date – providing his first two assists in a Cherries shirt.
— AFC Bournemouth (@afcbournemouth) September 15, 2017
Bournemouth’s need for incision was evident as Anthony Knockaert hit the game’s first chance wide from 25 yards, with the hosts’ domination of possession only resulting in long-range half-chances for Josh King and Marc Pugh.
Davy Propper’s delicate chip cleared Asmir Begovic and the crossbar – while Defoe kept Mathew Ryan honest at the other end with a swivelling snapshot that fizzed past the far post.
Bournemouth enjoyed 81 per cent possession in the first half’s final 15 minutes, another blocked King effort all to show for it, and that profligacy ought to have been punished as Brighton somehow failed to score from a pair of corners shortly after the interval.
Surman was required to clear Duffy’s looping header off the line, with Propper’s follow-up scrambled behind, only for Dale Stephens to crash another header off the crossbar and watch on in frustration as the ball bounced off an unwitting Begovic, but not over the line.
Perhaps sensing a weakness from out wide, Brighton returned to that avenue as they took the lead.
Pascal Gross kept up his run of having a hand in every Brighton goal this term, twisting past Charlie Daniels and crossing to the back post, where March rose above Adam Smith to nod back across goal and in.
4 – Pascal Groß has been involved in all four of Brighton’s goals in the Premier League this season (two goals, two assists). Talisman.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 15, 2017
Howe wore an ashen expression after conceding, but an inspired substitution turned the game 12 minutes later as Ibe’s first meaningful contribution was to play a smart backheeled return ball to Surman, who sat Lewis Dunk down and rolled home.
Another flying intervention from Dunk was more successful soon after as Ibe controlled Duffy’s clearance and lashed goalwards, but the former Liverpool man was key in turning the game around, beating two players and sliding through a pass for Defoe, who flashed a low effort beyond Ryan before the goalkeeper could move.
Ibe almost provided the cherry on a particularly sweet outing, drilling a free-kick wide, but victory was safely seen out to kick-start the seasons of player and club alike.
Key Opta stats:
– Bournemouth continued their unbeaten league run against Brighton, winning 2-1 to extend that run to seven matches (W4 D3).
– Jermain Defoe scored his first goal for Bournemouth since May 2001 (5977 days ago), when he was playing alongside Eddie Howe for the Cherries away at Reading.
– Defoe has now scored against 36 different Premier League teams – only three players have scored against more; Frank Lampard (39), Andrew Cole (38) and Alan Shearer (37).
– Defoe has scored in 17 different Premier League seasons, with only three players scoring in more – Frank Lampard (18), Paul Scholes (19) and Ryan Giggs (21).
– Andrew Surman ended a run of 68 Premier League games without a goal, scoring his first since he found the net in Norwich’s 6-1 defeat to Manchester City in April 2012.
– Jordon Ibe provided assists for both of Bournemouth’s goals – before tonight, he hadn’t been involved in a single goal in his previous 28 Premier League appearances for the Cherries.
– Ibe is the first Bournemouth player to provide two assists in a single Premier League game.
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