Newcastle United 0 AFC Bournemouth 1
- Paul Tierney
Steve Cook’s last-gasp header gave AFC Bournemouth a 1-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday.
It was a cruel late blow for the Magpies, who applied plenty of pressure in what was a very open game at St. James’ Park, but couldn’t quite find a way through against Eddie Howe’s side.
And centre back Cook rose highest to nod home a corner at the end of a compelling encounter, sending his team back to the south coast with all three points.
The first opportunity came on three minutes, when Josh King robbed Jonjo Shelvey in the middle of the park. The Norwegian had the chance to play in Callum Wilson or Jordon Ibe on the right, but his pass for the former was too heavy and the latter saw his cross deflected wide.
Matt Ritchie, facing his old club for the first time, then zipped in a 25-yarder which Asmir Begovic did well to get his fingertips to as United responded, with Ritchie then crossing for Dwight Gayle, who saw his header blocked by Steve Cook.
Another former Bournemouth man Christian Atsu was next to try his luck, seeing his fierce drive tipped over by Begovic as the hosts cranked up the pressure. Ritchie’s superb curling effort from the edge of the box had the Bosnian beaten, but it stuck the base of the post and though Gayle prodded the rebound into an empty net, it was chalked off for offside.
Atsu, who spent time on loan at the Vitality Stadium two seasons ago, saw a right-footed attempt nodded wide by Cook as it looked to be heading in the far corner. All Newcastle lacked was the goal their play deserved in the opening half hour. Joselu then pulled a shot wide after Hayden, back in for Mohamed Diame, stole possession from Andrew Surman.
But the Cherries threatened sporadically on the counter. Simon Francis’ cross was met by King, whose looping header forced Rob Elliot to backpeddle and palm it over his crossbar. The Republic of Ireland stopper then had to stand firm, holding onto the shot after King outmuscled Florian Lejeune and fired goalwards from a tight angle.
After the restart, Shelvey’s corner was headed into the ground by Joselu at the far post, and Begovic had to tip it over.
Just five minutes into the second period, though, Howe’s side squandered a clear chance. Wilson went clean through on goal, one-on-one with Elliot, with plenty of time to measure the finish. He snatched at it, though, and could only find the sidenetting.
Marc Pugh saw a header saved by Elliot as the game continued at a frantic pace. Substitute Ciaran Clark, on for the injured Jamaal Lascelles, headed a Ritchie corner over, and Ayoze Perez was introduced from the bench as Benítez sought a winner.
The game opened up even further in the final 20 minutes, with Ibe blasting in a shot which Javier Manquillo did well to block and, at the other end, Atsu lashed well wide of the target.
What looked to be the best chance of all came with just two minutes left on the clock. Pugh slalomed into the box, beating Lejeune, but Elliot got something on his shot, and the ball rebounded off the base of the post before being hacked to safety.
But there was still time to Cook to settle it in stoppage time, planting his header past Elliot in the game’s dying moments to win it for Bournemouth and condemn the Magpies to a second 1-0 defeat in a week.