Aston Villa ruined Bournemouth’s first taste of the Premier League as Benin striker Rudy Gestede marked his debut with the late goal that sealed a 1-0 win at Dean Court on Saturday.
Playing in the top-flight for the first time in the club’s 116-year history, Bournemouth’s failure to turn their first half dominance into goals led to a painful lesson in the harsh realities of the Premier League.
Gestede scored on his Premier League debut
Tim Sherwood’s Villa played the role of party-poopers to perfection thanks to the second half header from Gestede, signed from Blackburn for A?6 million ($9 million, 8.48 million euros) to fill the significant void left by Belgium forward Christian Benteke’s move to Liverpool.
Demoralised by their FA Cup final thrashing against Arsenal in May, the mood at Villa was hardly lifted by the pre-season departures of Benteke and Fabian Delph, who joined Manchester City, but this was the kind of gritty display they will need to replicate on a regular basis to avoid a repeat of last season’s relegation battle.
It was a frustrating start to Premier League life for Championship winners Bournemouth, who came close to going into liquidation on three occasions in 2008 as the club languished in obscurity near the bottom of English football’s fourth tier.
Revitalised by the astute management of Eddie Howe and the petrochemical fortune of Russian investor Maxim Demin, Bournemouth have embarked on a fairytale journey to the top tier.
With a capacity of 11,700, Dean Court is by far the smallest ground in the top-flight, but in the minutes before the long-awaited kick-off, Bournemouth’s cramped stadium was a vibrant sea of red as the arrival of the Premier League energised the sleepy seaside town.
Marc Pugh had the hosts’ first sight of goal when he headed over and Dan Gosling wasted a golden opportunity when the Bournemouth midfielder pounced on a loose ball, only to slam his shot over the crossbar from 12 yards.
Sherwood hopes a lengthy list of signings, including four from France’s Ligue 1, would fill the gaping holes left by Benteke and Delph.
Shaky start to life without Christian Benteke for Aston Villa
He gave starts to debutants Micah Richards, Jordan Amavi, Jordan Veretout, Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Ayew, but they took some while to get going.
Another Bournemouth chance came and went when striker Callum Wilson raced clear of Ciaran Clark and shot straight at Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Pugh was also denied by Guzan late in the first half when his strike was blocked by the American.
But Sherwood’s half-time team-talk had the desired effect as Villa produced a far more dynamic second half display.
Gueye was close to scoring on his debut when he met Gabriel Agbonlahor’s pull-back with a shot that drew a good save from Artur Boruc.
With Villa showing more intent, Sherwood sent on Gestede in place of the disappointing Ayew and the 26-year-old was quick to threaten with a volley just wide.
And Sherwood’s switch paid dividends in the 72nd minute when Gestede rose highest to power his header past Boruc.
. By AFP