Bournemouth snatch last-gasp win­ner af­ter Ben­itez blun­ders

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football - By Luke Ed­wards at St James’ Park

Rafa Ben­itez has many qual­i­ties as a man­ager, al­though his stub­born streak is per­haps not one of them as New­cas­tle fell to their first home de­feat since Au­gust af­ter a du­bi­ous sub­sti­tu­tion call by the Spa­niard.

Bournemouth were al­ready on top in the sec­ond half but the home fans were an­tic­i­pat­ing a shift in the tide. A change was ob­vi­ously needed up front as Dwight Gayle and Joselu tired, but with the chants ask­ing for the ar­rival of cult hero Alek­san­dar Mitro­vic, Ben­itez turned to Ay­oze Perez in­stead.

It was a strange call. New­cas­tle were strug­gling to hold the ball up and their ri­vals were grow­ing bolder as a re­sult.

Ben­itez may not trust Mitro­vic to con­trol his emo­tions on the pitch but for all his faults he would have added a much-needed phys­i­cal pres­ence.

The de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce Perez was the sort of un­pop­u­lar call only a very pop­u­lar man­ager like Ben­itez can make. It back­fired. It was not Perez’s fault New­cas­tle lost the game, but it still felt like a mis­take. Rather than give the vis­i­tors a dif­fer­ent sort of ques­tion to an­swer, Bournemouth merely strength­ened their grip, brush­ing the light­weight Gayle and Perez aside to con­stantly get on the front foot.

Ben­itez was, un­der­stand­ably, not keen to elab­o­rate on his rea­sons for choos­ing Perez rather than Mitro­vic.

“They are dif­fer­ent play­ers who would have given us dif­fer­ent types of move­ment,” he said. “If you cre­ate chances when you play well, you have to take them and you can­not af­ford to make mis­takes. We didn’t do that.” Had New­cas­tle taken the many chances they cre­ated in the first half, the out­come would have been dif­fer­ent.

Both Matt Ritchie and Chris­tian Atsu were de­nied by ex­cel­lent saves from As­mir Be­govic, and Dwight Gayle should have given the home team the lead when he rolled the ball into an empty net af­ter Ritchie had hit a post.

The goal was ruled out for off­side, but re­plays showed Gayle had been level with the last de­fender when the ini­tial shot was hit.

Bournemouth, though, hung in there and be­gan to threaten them­selves at the end of the first half, with Rob El­liot mak­ing a good save to tip over Cal­lum Wil­son’s loop­ing header.

They grad­u­ally cranked up the pres­sure, and af­ter Marc Pugh had hit a post, fi­nally got their de­served re­ward with Steve Cook’s in­jury-time header.

“It was a very sat­is­fy­ing way to win” said Bournemouth man­ager Ed­die Howe. “We have con­ceded late goals this sea­son and it has hurt us. The win takes us out of the bot­tom three and that’s a big psy­cho­log­i­cal lift.”

New­cas­tle United (4-4-2): El­liot 7 Yedlin 6, Las­celles 6 (Clark 55), Le­je­une 7, Man­quillo 5; Ritchie 7, Hayden 6, Shelvey 7, Atsu 6 (Murphy 82); Gayle 6, Joselu 4 (Perez 68). Subs Dar­low (g), Di­ame, Gamez, Mitro­vic. Booked Le­je­une, Shelvey. Bournemouth (4-4-2): Be­govic 7; Fran­cis 7, Ake 7, Cook 8, Daniels 7; Ibe 6 (De­foe 76), Sur­man 6, Arter 6, Pugh 7; Wil­son 7 (Smith 75), King 6. Subs Boruc (g), Gosling, Cook, Fraser, Mous­set. Booked Sur­man, Fran­cis. Ref P Tier­ney (Lan­cashire).

Head of queue: Steve Cook leaps to score the in­jury-time win­ner for Bournemouth

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