Bournemouth 1-0 Liverpool: Billing boosts hosts’ survival in shock win
Liverpool were brought back down to earth as they slipped to defeat at relegation-threatened Bournemouth just six days on from their historic victory over Manchester United.
Jurgen Klopp’s side humiliated their fierce rivals with a 7-0 win at Anfield last Sunday but Philip Billing’s sixth goal of the season was enough for the Cherries to secure a 1-0 victory to move off the foot of the Premier League.
Mohamed Salah shanked a second-half penalty wide to sum up a poor display on a wet and windy south-coast afternoon, with Liverpool missing out on a chance to break into the top four ahead of the second leg of their Champions League tie with Real Madrid.
Bournemouth had been two goals up at league leaders Arsenal last week only to succumb to a stoppage-time winner but their response here was admirable.
Gary O’Neil’s side were buoyed by the return of David Brooks to a matchday squad for the first time in 525 days, the Wales midfielder having been diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma in October 2021.
Unsurprisingly, it was in-form Liverpool who created the first opportunity of the afternoon as Virgil van Dijk headed a corner goalwards only for the returning Jefferson Lerma to clear off the line.
Bournemouth should have broken the deadlock as Dango Ouattara broke in behind to latch onto a Dominic Solanke pass before trying to round Alisson, tightening the angle as he could only shoot into the side netting.
Birthday boy Andrew Robertson forced a smart stop out of Neto at the other end before Cody Gakpo turned home a Darwin Nunez cross only to be ruled offside.
Ouattara was causing the Liverpool defence all sorts of bother and ultimately it was the Burkina Faso winger who teed up Bournemouth’s opener, shrugging off a Van Dijk challenge before crossing for Billing to turn home.
Van Dijk should have done much better as Liverpool looked to level before the break but he could not make clean contact on a deep Robertson free-kick.
Former Liverpool striker Solanke fired over as the Cherries pushed for a second, Liverpool’s defence resembling their efforts in the 5-2 Champions League defeat by Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 clash rather than that which had kept five consecutive clean sheets in the league heading to the Vitality Stadium.
Klopp reacted by sending out the visitors early for the second half, as well as introducing Diogo Jota in place of Harvey Elliott.
Jota was straight into the action, his shot turned behind by Neto, but the chances were not free-flowing for the Reds, with Klopp again turning to his bench as Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Roberto Firmino all came on with 65 minutes on the clock.
Milner was involved immediately, his cross headed goalwards by Jota and striking the arm of Adam Smith, with referee John Brooks pointing to the spot after consulting his pitchside monitor.
Salah, usually so deadly from 12 yards, blazed his spot-kick wide of the post as Bournemouth’s lead remained in tact, substitute Ryan Christie stinging the palms of Alisson as the hosts looked to extend their advantage.
Gakpo blasted over in the dying embers as Bournemouth held on for just a second win from their last 11 league outings to relieve some of the pressure on O’Neil, who was appointed in the aftermath of Liverpool’s 9-0 thrashing of the Cherries earlier in the season.
That win proved something of a false dawn for Klopp’s side and they will now be hoping this loss is a setback rather than the end of a good run of form as their inconsistent campaign took another turn.