Gary O’Neil further enhanced his credentials to become the next permanent Bournemouth manager after leading his side to an impressive comeback victory over Leicester.
Since succeeding Scott Parker at Vitality Stadium O’Neil has overseen a five-game unbeaten run, and this fine win comes after another outstanding comeback against Nottingham Forest last month.
Although he plays it down when asked, it is increasingly hard to ignore the body of work he is creating at Bournemouth, with former Arsenal defender Martin Keown asking: “Who else would you give the job to?”
In front of prospective new Cherries owner Bill Foley, Patson Daka’s opener gave Leicester some early control but they failed to capitalise and had no answer to a rousing reply from Bournemouth in the second half.
Philip Billing thrashed home a superb volley to level the scores before Ryan Christie touched in Dominic Solanke’s knock-down five minutes later to complete the revival.
Substitute Jamie Vardy helped inject some urgency into Leicester’s play and he went close with a couple of cross-shots, but the good feeling established by Monday’s 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest had long evaporated by the end and the pressure had turned up once more on boss Brendan Rodgers.
Defeat keeps Leicester mired in 19th with just four points from their opening nine games, while Bournemouth move up to eighth, level on points with Manchester United who play Everton on Sunday.
O’Neil reputation on rise at Bournemouth
Parker lost his job as Bournemouth manager after stating publicly that the team needed new players in the wake of the desperate 9-0 defeat at Liverpool in August.
Six weeks on, this win moves the Cherries two points clear of Liverpool, albeit having played two games more.
O’Neil has brought stability and structure to this Cherries side and has also added a resilience, shown first by a victory from two goals down at Nottingham Forest and then here.
“Gary O’Neil has done exceptionally well since he’s been in charge,” said Keown on BBC Final Score. “This is with a team that the previous manager was telling us were not fit for purpose after losing heavily to Liverpool.”
Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis added: “O’Neil has proved his worth and a change now would be detrimental to Bournemouth.”
In the first half they lacked a cutting edge and were well marshalled by Leicester, trailing to Daka’s strike and with only Ryan Fredericks’ claims for a penalty to get excited about.
After the break though they were a different proposition, pushing the Foxes back and deservedly equalising, even if Billing’s fine finish was preceded by bad errors from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Wout Faes for Leicester.
Sensing blood against the Premier League’s worst defence, Bournemouth attacked again and Billing was given time to pick out Solanke whose neat header was tucked away by Christie.
It nearly got even better, only for Jaidon Anthony’s late strike on the counter-attack to be ruled out for an offside in the build-up.
A new era beckons under Foley – on this evidence, O’Neil should be part of it.
As for Leicester, that victory over Forest had seemed to mark a turning point, but the old failings that brought six defeats in a row were in evidence once again.
Faes and centre-back partner Jonny Evans looked dominant in the first half, but Faes’ loose touch let Solanke in to set up Bournemouth’s leveller and then they were too passive for the winner.
It has been a horrible start to the season for Rodgers’ side and the next two fixtures at home to Crystal Palace and Leeds may prove crucial in deciding his future.
- 13Murara Neto
- 2FredericksBooked at 40minsSubstituted forStaceyat 72′minutes
- 15A Smith
- 4L Cook
- 29BillingSubstituted forAnthonyat 77′minutes
- 9SolankeSubstituted forMooreat 90+2′minutes
- 27CastagneSubstituted forAmarteyat 67′minutes
- 2JustinSubstituted forPérezat 86′minutes
- 42SoumaréBooked at 59minsSubstituted forIheanachoat 79′minutes
- 10MaddisonBooked at 88mins
- 20DakaSubstituted forVardyat 67′minutes
- Michael Salisbury
Match ends, Bournemouth 2, Leicester City 1.
Second Half ends, Bournemouth 2, Leicester City 1.
Foul by Jonny Evans (Leicester City).
Kieffer Moore (Bournemouth) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Offside, Bournemouth. Ryan Christie tries a through ball, but Marcus Tavernier is caught offside.
Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Chris Mepham.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Kieffer Moore replaces Dominic Solanke.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Ayoze Pérez.
James Maddison (Leicester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by James Maddison (Leicester City).
Ryan Christie (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jonny Evans (Leicester City).
Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Leicester City. Ayoze Pérez replaces James Justin.
James Maddison (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Lewis Cook (Bournemouth).
James Maddison (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ryan Christie (Bournemouth).
Offside, Bournemouth. Lewis Cook tries a through ball, but Jack Stacey is caught offside.
Substitution, Leicester City. Kelechi Iheanacho replaces Boubakary Soumaré.
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