Newcastle United 2 AFC Bournemouth 1
- Lee Probert
Salomón Rondón’s first-half brace proved enough for Newcastle United to see off AFC Bournemouth and earn another valuable victory in the Premier League.
The frontman tucked away United’s opener with Rafa Benítez’s side’s first opportunity of the game, and then put the Magpies firmly in the ascendancy with a bullet header five minutes before the interval.
But, Bournemouth – sluggish for much of the opening period – reduced the arrears deep into stoppage time, as Jefferson Lerma got on the end of a Ryan Fraser corner.
Rather than turn the tide in the Cherries’ favour, though, the Magpies stood firm after that. Though Bournemouth enjoyed plenty of the ball late on, delivering numerous corners, crosses and long throws, United’s backline – increased to five in number during the closing stages – looked in control for the most part.
Two minutes in, the first chance of the game fell the Cherries’ way. Jordon Ibe latched onto Callum Wilson’s ball after a swift move, and took a touch before bearing down on Martin Dúbravka. However, Federico Fernández raced back in time to slide in and block the forward’s effort.
Bournemouth were duly punished just five minutes later, as Rondón struck for the first time at St. James’ Park. Mohamed Diamé sent DeAndre Yedlin sprinting down the right with a lofted pass, and the American cut the ball back for Rondón to take aim. His initial effort was beat away by ‘keeper Asmir Begović, but the frontman was first to the rebound and neatly swept home.
Fabian Schär then saw a near-post header blocked as United started to grow in confidence, with former Cherries winger Matt Ritchie volleying just high of the target not long after. A freak injury to Bournemouth’s Adam Smith then sapped the game of momentum, but when – after a lengthy stoppage – the action got up and running once more, it was the Magpies who awoke the quicker.
After 40 minutes, they extended their lead courtesy of a wonderful Rondón header. Ki Sung-yueng switched the ball to Kenedy on the left, who was afforded the time and space to whip in an enticing cross. United’s No.9 timed his run to perfection, leaving Nathan Aké standing in his wake before planting the ball past Begović.
Kenedy himself perhaps ought to have inflicted further damage on Bournemouth after being put through by Ayoze Pérez early into a hefty chunk of added time, but Begović managed to narrow the angle and block the Brazilian’s effort.
And, after surviving a scare, the Cherries managed to halve the deficit before the break. Dúbravka did superbly to tip Steve Cook’s goalbound header over the crossbar following a Fraser free kick, but from the ensuing corner, Colombian midfielder Lerma stooped to nod the Scot’s delivery into the corner of the net.
There was still time for Newcastle to go close again prior to the whistle. With Eddie Howe’s side having committed bodies forward in search of a quick-fire leveller, Pérez found himself in on goal with just Begović to beat, only to drill wide of the far post from 12 yards.
After a slow start to the second period, the Magpies nearly re-established their two-goal advantage thanks to a familiar source. Ki’s floated pass was gathered by Ritchie on the right, and the winger’s driven cross was flicked past the upright by Rondón.
Just after the hour-mark, Ritchie himself shot narrowly wide after a quick United counter. Bournemouth’s Ibe gave the ball away carelessly following a corner, allowing Kenedy to break. Though the Cherries dealt with the first attack, they were lucky to get away with the second, Ritchie firing agonisingly wide after meeting a low Pérez pass.
Bournemouth started to up the ante after that. With 20 minutes remaining, a neat move culminated with ex-Magpie Dan Gosling playing Ibe in on goal, but the former Liverpool man blazed over the crossbar from a glorious position.
Though they continued to camp themselves in United’s half, the Cherries looked vulnerable to the counter. Substitute Christian Atsu brought a low save out of Begović after cutting in from the left, before the Bosnian stopper just managed to do enough to direct Rondón’s low-struck effort wide following a powerful run from the Venezuelan.
Added time came and went without any further drama, with Benítez’s troops moving up to 14th in the Premier League ahead of the international break.