Wednesday 21 November 2018

Premier League round-up: Cardiff beaten in first game back in top flight

Bournemouth's Callum Wilson is mobbed by his team-mates
Bournemouth's Callum Wilson is mobbed by his team-mates

Ed Elliot

Cardiff's first game back in the Premier League ended in a 2-0 defeat as goals from Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson gave Bournemouth a winning start.

Winger Fraser converted from close range in the 24th minute at the Vitality Stadium before Wilson settled a tight contest by side-footing home in stoppage time.

The newly-promoted Bluebirds showed plenty of fight but created little and would have lost by more had Wilson's first-half penalty not been kept out by Neil Etheridge.

Bournemouth introduced club-record signing Jefferson Lerma and fellow summer recruit Diego Rico to the home crowd ahead of kick-off.

Bluebirds boss Neil Warnock revealed this week that Colombia midfielder Lerma was his top summer transfer target, although he was expecting to pay a quarter of the £25million fee.

He handed a debut to lone striker Bobby Reid, while Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe thrust 20-year-old Wales international David Brooks into his starting XI following his arrival from Sheffield United.

The Cherries started slowly but went ahead with the game's first shot on target.

Striker Wilson worked space inside the area and his pull back from the right was calmly slotted home by unmarked Scotland international Fraser.

Wilson had a golden chance to double the advantage in the 34th minute but, after referee Kevin Friend adjudged he was tripped inside the 18-yard box by Bruno Ecuele Manga, his tame spot-kick was saved by City keeper Etheridge.

Cardiff's last league victory over Bournemouth was in February 2002 when opposing manager Howe played for the Cherries.

City captain Sean Morrison almost forced a 65th-minute equaliser but home keeper Asmir Begovic scrambled the ball away after substitute Josh Murphy - on for his first appearance following an £11m move from Norwich - had hooked towards goal.

Minutes earlier, Bournemouth debutant Brooks had been unable to steer his header into the gaping goal following a pacey left-wing centre from Fraser.

The Cherries have never lost at home to a promoted side in the top flight and they made the three points safe in the first minute of added time.

Substitute Simon Francis dispossessed Murphy on the right wing before cutting the ball back for Wilson to stroke home and atone for his early penalty miss.

 

Watford 2 Brighton 0

Roberto Pereyra began the season in spectacular style with two goals as Watford sank sorry Brighton 2-0.

The Argentinian midfielder scored a superb volley and fine curler to ensure the Hornets got their campaign off to an encouraging start.

But Brighton's defending let them down badly and left manager Chris Hughton shaking his head in frustration.

After all, Brighton had spent around £60million on 10 new players this summer while Watford were largely frustrated in the transfer market.

The only new face in the hosts' starting line-up was, in fact, an old face - goalkeeper Ben Foster who rejoined from relegated West Brom.

Yet Foster almost marked his second debut with an assist, moments after Brighton striker Glenn Murray had just failed to get a head on Davy Propper's cross.

Foster's long goal-kick caught the Brighton defence off guard and sent Andre Gray through, only for Seagulls goalkeeper Mat Ryan to keep out the striker's effort.

Ryan had to be on his toes again after 15 minutes, denying Troy Deeney after a loose ball landed at the Watford captain's feet eight yards out.

Dale Stephens almost gave Brighton the lead when he volleyed Bruno's centre across goal and wide.

But the Hornets were well on top and their pressure told 10 minutes before half-time.

Brighton's defence had just been forced into a reshuffle after skipper Bruno had gone off injured, which might explain why Pereyra was unmarked just inside the area when he met a Jose Holebas corner with a sweet volley.

It was a fabulous strike, though, and although Ryan got a hand to the ball he was beaten by the pace and power as it flew into the net.

Brighton's rearguard was guilty of daydreaming again early in the second half as a Holebas free-kick flew over everyone to the far post, where Christian Kabasele had a free header which he guided over the crossbar.

But in the 54th minute Pereyra struck again, receiving the ball from Holebas and stealing in behind an increasingly baffled Bernardo, Brighton's Brazilian defensive summer signing from RB Leipzig.

Pereyra still had plenty to do as he drove into the area, and with the angle narrowing he curled a superb strike past Ryan to double the lead.

Hughton threw on two more new signings, Yves Bissouma and club-record capture Alireza Jahanbakhsh, but they were unable to spark a comeback.

Brighton had the worst away record in the Premier League last season, and on this evidence they will need to improve significantly if they are to extend their stay for a third year.

 

Fulham 0 Crystal Palace 2

Crystal Palace taught Fulham a painful lesson on their return to the Premier League with a clinical 2-0 victory at Craven Cottage.

Having absorbed much of their adventurous hosts' pressure, they punished rare lapses in intensity and concentration to score towards the end of each half through Jeffrey Schlupp and then Wilfried Zaha.

There was regardless cause for encouragement for Slavisa Jokanovic's team in the way they often outplayed such an established side, but if they are to retain their top-flight status they will know that they will have to become similarly ruthless.

Jokanovic handed full debuts to six of his summer signings, and his new-look team began as if lifted by the optimism that has built around them.

Complemented by Jean Michael Seri, Calum Chambers, Fabri, Maxime le Marchand, Joe Bryan and Andre Schurrle, they often stretched their visitors in a way that showed that they will continue to entertain.

Palace, whose highest-profile arrival Max Meyer did not even make the substitutes' bench because of a lack of match fitness, retained a similar XI to that which again led them to safety last season.

Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and James McArthur were preferred to the recently-recruited Vicente Guaita and Cheikhou Kouyate, and if Roy Hodgson had hoped stability would provide an advantage he was ultimately proved right.

Cyrus Christie had already tested Hennessey with a low shot when Aleksandar Mitrovic forced him into another save having teed himself up for a close-range volley after controlling Schurrle's right-wing cross.

Palace's Andros Townsend had seen an ambitious strike from midfield saved by Fabri and then crossed for Christian Benteke, whose looping header stretched the goalkeeper into a fine save, but the relief those chances provided was brief.

The £22million Mitrovic - making his first competitive appearance since joining Fulham permanently following his loan from Newcastle - demonstrated that again when he dispossessed Mamadou Sakho before running and shooting towards the bottom left corner, where Hennessey again saved.

It was four minutes before half-time when, against the run of play, the visitors took the lead. Townsend exchanged passes with Patrick van Aanholt, whose through-ball fed Schlupp and allowed the midfielder to turn and from the near post send an explosive finish into the top left corner, beyond Fabri's reach.

They grew in confidence but the hosts still posed the greater threat and were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty shortly after the hour mark when Sakho clumsily brought down Schurrle.

Palace produced an almost immediate response when Benteke nodded Hennessey's long free-kick towards Zaha to send him through on Fabri, who produced a superb reaction save from the forward's powerful strike.

In keeping with the contest, Mitrovic then again went close, this time with an angled header from Bryan's cross that the impressive Hennessey again saved.

It was Fulham's ambition that again exposed them, this time in the 79th minute when Aaron Wan-Bissaka won possession, countered and played in Zaha, who went to round Fabri and instead finished underneath him.

Ryan Sessegnon's header again tested Hennessey but the Palace goalkeeper produced a fine save to secure all three points and a clean sheet.

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