Jermain Defoe scored a well-taken winner as Bournemouth came from behind to claim their first Premier League win of the season against Brighton.
Defoe turned in the box and drilled home a clinical finish – his first goal since joining the Cherries in the summer – after being put through by substitute Jordon Ibe.
Winger Ibe has struggled since arriving at Bournemouth from Liverpool for £15m in 2016, but he also made the first goal with a clever backheel to Andrew Surman, who coolly stroked in.
After a dismal first half, the game came to life in the second period as Solly March headed in the opener for visitors Brighton from Pascal Gross’ pinpoint cross.
Minutes earlier, defender Dale Stephens nodded an effort against the crossbar after Surman had cleared Shane Duffy’s header and Davy Propper’s follow-up off the line.
The two sides meet again at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday in the third round of the EFL Cup.
Ibe finally contributes
Up until Ibe’s introduction on 65 minutes in place of Ryan Fraser, the Cherries were largely poor, failing to break down a Seagulls backline which had been sitting deep.
Full-back Charlie Daniels, who scored a stunner against Manchester City in the last league game, strode forward and struck a rising drive straight at Mathew Ryan, and striker Defoe came close when he spun and struck from the edge of the box.
But England Under-21 international Ibe, who provided no goals or assists in 25 league games last season, laid on two goals on Friday and almost got on the scoresheet late on with a free-kick that curled inches wide.
The pressure had been mounting on Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe after starting the Premier League campaign with four straight defeats, but the win moves them three points clear of bottom side Crystal Palace, who host Southampton on Saturday.
Howe said of Ibe’s contribution: “He made a huge difference, the ability to beat people and be positive with the ball. The two assists were excellent and I am really pleased for him.”
Gross looks pretty for Brighton
This was a meeting of two south-coast teams living a fairytale in the top flight of English football.
In 2008-09, Bournemouth were hit with a 17-point deduction after financial problems and they finished the season just two places above the relegation zone in League Two.
Brighton’s long climb to the Premier League came having finished 23rd out of 24 teams in the old Division Three – now League Two – in 1997-98. The previous season, they finished in the same position and on the same points as Hereford, but stayed in the Football League by virtue of having scored three more goals than the Bulls.
Chris Hughton’s side were proving tough to break down early on against Bournemouth and managed to take the lead courtesy of Gross’ cross to fellow midfielder March.
German Gross, who created the most chances (98) in the Bundesliga for Ingolstadt last season, will be key if the Seagulls are to stay in the division, having been involved in all his team’s goals this term – two goals and two assists.
Man of the match – Andrew Surman (Bournemouth)
Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas on BBC Radio 5 live
Give credit to the Bournemouth players and manager.
Eddie Howe would have been very disappointed with what he saw in the first half. He let them come out in the second half and then decided to make a change. And Jordon Ibe made the difference – with two assists.
You can sense the relief around this stadium and on the players’ faces with the celebrations – they’ll feel they can kick on now. It shows good togetherness that they have come through this.
To be fair to Eddie Howe, he never veers away from how they play football. The reason it hasn’t been going great is because individually they haven’t been performing.
But winning and scoring goals breeds confidence. There’ll be smiles on faces at training now and looking forward to their next games.
I thought Brighton were cruising for 65 minutes. Chris Hughton will be disappointed.
‘A confidence lift’ – what they said
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, speaking to Match of the Day: “A lot of emotions, relief is probably the biggest one. We have had a tough run of fixtures and today was really important.
“They played deep, they were compact and we knew it would be difficult. The two goals have given everyone a confidence lift.”
Brighton boss Chris Hughton, speaking to Match of the Day: “Incredibly disappointed. They have a lot of quality and move the ball well, but we handled it well for a lot of the game. It was two poor goals we conceded that we never looked like conceding before then.
“I thought it was a really good period for us just before we scored. Up until then they had a lot of possession but I felt we were always in the game.”
Jer-main man – the stats
- Bournemouth extended their unbeaten run against Brighton to seven games (won four, drawn four).
- Defoe scored his first goal for Bournemouth since May 2001 (5,977 days ago), when he was playing alongside Howe for the Cherries 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 – Lampard (18), Paul Scholes (19) and Ryan Giggs (21).
- Ibe is the first Bournemouth player to provide two assists in a Premier League game.