Bournemouth (2), Aston Villa (2) – Our Villans gain a point in the 90th minute of a nail-biter

Sunday, Dec 3rd, 14:00 – Vitality Stadium

Referee: Thomas Bramall

While other managers in the Premier League are challenged with lengthy injury lists, Unai Emery is still honing his squad.  He, better than most managers, knows that to compete simultaneously in domestic leagues and European competitions requires first class alternatives in each position.  That is not to suggest that Martinez et al can be substituted with no loss of effectiveness, but the team should be able to win most games without relying on the same eleven.

That explains why Emery had Tielemans come off the bench repeatedly before being given a start.  Similarly, he sees in Diego Carlos the physical presence and the passing ability that he covets.  As for Zaniolo, the Italian’s size (6 ft 3 in) and skill have netted him many goals and assists in Serie A and for Turkey’s Galatasaray.

Against Bournemouth, Emery saw an opportunity to rest Diaby who had scored against Legia Warszawa and played the first 80 minutes in Thursday’s Europa League game and see whether Zaniolo could make an impact against a team being molded by a new manager.  Nicolò desperately needed to score a goal to improve his confidence.  Similarly, Emery saw an opportunity to rest Matty Cash who had played the full 90 minutes on Thursday and to give Diego Carlos Premier League minutes.

Emery must have been very disappointed that both changes backfired.   So, what happened?

Playing to Ollie Watkins’ right Zaniolo was an inviting target as center backs are naturally distracted by Ollie’s speed and finishing.  Sure enough, Zaniolo found himself with a half chance tin the 4th minute, but he proceeded to hit the shot well over the bar.  Two minutes later Douglas Luiz showed how it’s done, shooting from distance and the ball heading just inside Neto’s right post, forcing the goalie to dive and tip the shot round the upright for a corner.

With Villa appearing to have settled comfortably into the game, Carlos made a careless, and telegraphed, pass out of the penalty area that Lewis Cook was all over and he immediately relayed the ball to the open Semenyo who promptly tucked the ball into the corner of the net.  Our Villans were behind again.  Bournemouth 1, Aston Villa 0 in the 10th minute.

A couple of minutes later, Zaniolo wasted possession and Bournemouth took advantage to probe again down the left leading to Semenyo letting go a powerful drive that Martinez blocked with his knees at the near post.

Villa’s next attack saw Bailey picked out on the right wing and Leon cut inside and had three defenders on their heels before lashing a low powerful drive wide of Neto’s dive and bulging in the corner of the net.  Bournemouth 1, Aston Villa 1 in the 20th minute.

Just a couple of minutes later our Villans thought they had double their tally.  From a freekick in Bournemouth’s half, Luiz floated a cross to the edge of the penalty area and Watkins rose to head it over the defensive line.  Digne, on the left, was quicker to respond as the ball bounced and he headed back towards the center.  Diego Carlos was there to receive and to calmly direct it passed the goalie from point blank range.

While there was no question of Carlos being offside from the VAR replays, it was apparent that Digne had ventured a little offside before coming back onside to receive Olle’s header.  The problem was the timing.  It took an interminable delay to decide that Digne had been offside.  As for Carlos who stood to offset a goal he had caused with his first Premier League goal for Villa, it was a huge disappointment.

This was also a huge boost for the home side, as two goals back-to-back would have deflated the team and the fans.  The Cherries showed their relief by almost scoring immediately after  when Semenyo forced Martinez into a fingertip save from close range.  Then the Ghanaian set-up an excellent chance for Solanke who missed the tap-in by inches.

Zaniolo showed his frustration when he needlessly dragged down Adam Smith rather than chasing him, only to get a yellow card.  The veteran fullback needed on-field treatment, and this further extended the half.

This gave Zaniolo another opportunity.  This one came after Torres had carried the ball 50 yards from his own half through the heart of the Cherries team before slipping a perfect pass for the Italian to run onto and hit, only he was sluggish, and a defender easily poked the ball back to Neto.

The goalie’s clearance became a counterattack, when Kluivert was able to race onto a through-ball between Konsa and Carlos.  Not for the first time, Konsa made a game changing tackle sliding to exquisitely separate the ball from the forward ready to shoot.

Seconds later, it was our Villans turn.  Tielemans dissected the Cherries’ backline finding Bailey on the left.  Leon turned his defender and laid a perfect pull-back to Luiz to run onto near the penalty spot.  Douglas went for power and somehow Neto got an arm to the ball and sent it careening into the air.  Semenyo impeded Konsa running onto loose ball and prevented our Villans getting another bite at the cherry.

From the freekick just outside the box, Luiz hit what looked like another certain goal only for Solanke to bravely block with his noggin.  Before the end of the half, the same players would again repeat their roles.  Only this time it would be an accidental kick by Luiz into Solanke’s groin.

That ended the half with the Cherries likely relieved that they had gone into the break tied.  During that break Emery only made one change and it was totally unsurprising as Zaniolo was replaced by Jacob Ramsey.

Soon into the half, we saw a glimpse of what Ramsey can add to our options on the left side.  A beautiful triangular play between Ramsey, Watkins, and Digne almost broke through only for Digne to hesitate and Watkins to under-hit a pass that allowed a defender to recover and clear.

Soon after, out of nothing Bournemouth scored and regained the lead.  First, Martinez hit a long clearance to Bailey who was beaten to it by Kerkez who headed the ball deep into Villa’s half to a teammate and kept running.  He took the return down the left wing and swung a cross to Solanke.

Luiz was close enough to challenge but, perhaps, was wary as this was in the penalty area.  Meanwhile, Torres positioned himself to block a shot.  No problem for the striker as he pivoted and hit his shot through Torres’s legs and beyond Martinez whose view was blocked.  Bournemouth 2, Aston Villa 1 in the 52nd minute.

The goal vitalized the hosts and our Villans seemed incapable of changing the momentum.  Emery tried to find substitutes who would make the difference (Duran for McGinn, Cash for Konsa, Diaby for Bailey, and Moreno for Digne).

In the 72nd minute, the strength of our Colombian almost paid off.  A pass into the penalty area was laid off for Duran and, despite being closely marked by Senesi, he managed to turn and get off a shot that was partially blocked by the defender.  With Neto leaning to his left, the deflected shot hit the goalie’s right-hand post and rebounded away.

It was not until the 90th minute that Villa got the opportunity they were looking for.  First, Torres carried the ball into the Cherries’ half before picking out Diaby open on the right wing and sending a perfect pass for Moussa to chest the ball down.  The Frenchman did not hesitate before sending an inswinging cross that Watkins somehow contorted his body to head backwards into the far corner of the Bournemouth net.  A brilliant header befitting a game-saving occasion.  Bournemouth 2, Aston Villa 2 in injury time.

Bournemouth: Neto, Smith, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kerkez (Mepham 83′), Christie, Cook, Tavernier, Kluivert (Billing 70′), Semenyo (Sinisterra 71′), Solanke

Unused Subs: Mepham, Brooks, Rothwell, Ouattara, Sinisterra, Moore, Traorè, Billing, Travers

Aston Villa: Martínez, Konsa (Cash 74′), Diego Carlos, Torres, Digne (Moreno 74′), Douglas Luiz, Bailey (Diaby 74′), Tielemans, McGinn (Durán 65′), Zaniolo (Ramsey 45′), Watkins

Unused Subs:  Lenglet, Olsen, Dendoncker, Iroegbunam

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *