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Bournemouth 3-0 Brighton: Unal stars as Cherries continue upward surge

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Apr 2024

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Enes Unal played a crucial role on his full Premier League debut as Bournemouth saw off Brighton 3-0 at the Vitality Stadium.

Having teed up Marcos Senesi’s early opener – the defender’s fourth goal of the season – Unal sent a bullet header into the top-left corner after the break to double Bournemouth’s advantage in Sunday’s south coast derby.

The introduction of Julio Enciso from the bench in the second half saw Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton enjoy more spark in the final third, but the result was put beyond all doubt when Justin Kluivert slammed home late on.

Tenth-placed Bournemouth are now four points clear of Brighton and with Chelsea above them, with their hopes of European football still intact.

The Cherries started brightly, with Unal bursting down the right-hand side before looking to find fellow centre-forward Dominic Solanke, but a goal-saving challenge from Lewis Dunk prevented a certain opener.

Bournemouth kept up the pressure and opened the scoring after just 13 minutes as Senesi pounced in the box from a corner to nod home from just a few yards out after Unal had won the flick-on at the near post.

Brighton grew into it after going behind and had an excellent chance to find an equaliser as Facundo Buonanotte danced through the challenges of the opposition defence inside the box, only to fail to beat Mark Travers.

Andoni Iraola’s side should have made it two after Alex Scott dispossessed Igor Julio before pulling it back to Unal, but the Turkish striker dragged his effort wide from just inside the penalty area.

Just a few minutes after the break, the Cherries could have doubled their lead as Kluivert burst into the box with Antoine Semenyo waiting unmarked at the back post, but the Dutch forward opted to shoot from a tight angle and could only find the side netting.

Their second did arrive in the 52nd minute – Unal marking his first league start in style when he powered in a header after meeting Dango Ouattara’s floated cross to the back post.

Enciso twice went close as Brighton searched for a way back into the contest, striking off target from the edge of the box before sending a stunning attempt just wide.

Kluivert added further gloss to Bournemouth’s victory, however, driving in from the right and lashing in with his left foot to wrap up a comprehensive triumph.

Iraola’s European hopes firmly alive

The Cherries have now extended their unbeaten run at home to six games in the Premier League, with the Vitality Stadium becoming a bit of a fortress in recent months.

Bournemouth, who have now achieved their record points tally in the Premier League (48), are in with an outside chance of qualifying for Europe, with Andoni Iraola’s men moving back into the top half of table, just six points behind Manchester United in sixth.

Unal’s goal and assist might give Iraola something to think about in terms of team selection, too, as the Bournemouth boss looks to finish his maiden season in the competition on a high note, though a late injury for Semenyo, who had to be taken off on a stretcher, will perhaps dampen the mood somewhat.

De Zerbi’s debutants fail to deliver

De Zerbi handed full Premier League debuts to Mark O’Mahony and Odeluga Offiah, making seven changes overall as the Seagulls looked to bounce back from their heavy defeat to Manchester City last time out.

However, those alterations did not have the desired impact, and it is now just two wins from their last 16 Premier League games for the Seagulls, with De Zerbi’s side only beating Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United on the road this season.

Brighton have secured just two points from a possible 21 available in their previous seven fixtures, and a second season in Europe is surely beyond them now.

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