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Bournemouth 2-2 Aston Villa: Ollie Watkins’ late header earns top-four hopefuls point on south coast



Ollie Watkins’ 90th-minute header rescued a point for top-four hopefuls Aston Villa as they drew 2-2 with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

Watkins, passed fit to start on the south coast despite experiencing “small pain” in training this week, rose highest to reach a Moussa Diaby cross just when Bournemouth looked to have held on for all three points.

Unai Emery’s side headed into the fixture in impressive form but fell behind early on when Antoine Semenyo fired home for the hosts following a mistake by Diego Carlos (10). They were back on level terms just 10 minutes later when Leon Bailey cut in from the right and rifled an effort into the bottom corner from inside the box (20).

Leon Bailey equalised for Aston Villa in the 20th minute

Player ratings

Bournemouth: Neto (7), Smith (7), Zabarnyi (7), Senesi (7), Kerkez (7), Cook (7), Christie (7), Semenyo (7), Kluivert (7), Tavernier (8), Solanke (7).

Subs: Billing (6), Sinisterra (6), Mepham (6), Ouattara (n/a).

Aston Villa: Martinez (7), Konsa (7), Carlos (6), Torres (6), Digne (6), Tielemans (6), Bailey (7), Luiz (7), McGinn (6), Zaniolo (6), Watkins (7).

Subs: Ramsey (6), Duran (6), Cash (6), Moreno (6), Diaby (7).

Player of the match: Marcus Tavernier (Bournemouth).

The visitors had their tails up and looked to have completed an immediate turnaround thanks to Carlos’ close-range finish from a free-kick into the box, but after a lengthy VAR review, the goal was disallowed for offside against Lucas Digne in the build-up.

Following a feisty first half which saw five yellow cards brandished by referee Thomas Bramall, the contest calmed down after the break – for seven minutes at least – until Dominic Solanke put Bournemouth back in front with his eighth goal in all competitions this season following fine work by Milos Kerkez (52).

Dominic Solanke celebrates after putting Bournemouth back in front
Dominic Solanke put Bournemouth back in front seven minutes into the second half

Villa responded and almost equalised again when substitute Jhon Duran’s deflected shot wrong-footed Neto and struck a post, and they eventually found the moment they had been searching for when Watkins scored his 13th goal this term late on.

Villa stay fourth, three points above Newcastle and Tottenham. Bournemouth, who had won three of their previous four games before this result, remain 16th and are six points above the relegation zone.

Team news

Bournemouth head coach Andoni Iraola made one change from the side that started last weekend’s 3-1 win at Sheffield United and it was an enforced one.

Milos Kerkez replaced Lloyd Kelly, who missed out due to a hamstring injury suffered in that victory at Bramall Lane.

The big news for Aston Villa was Ollie Watkins being passed fit to start despite experiencing “small pain” in training.

Villa boss Unai Emery made three changes from the team that began last Sunday’s 2-1 win at Tottenham.

Youri Tielemans, Nicolo Zaniolo and Leon Bailey replaced Matty Cash, Moussa Diaby and the suspended Boubacar Kamara.

Iraola: We cannot be happy

Bournemouth head coach Andoni Iraola: “It is a hard one to take because before the game you would take a point against Villa, but considering how the team played and the chances we had we cannot be happy.

“In the end we could not score the third goal even though we had clear chances and we also have to congratulate their goalkeeper who made two or three spectacular saves.

“After the start of the season we needed to improve and we’ve been doing that. We are understanding each other better and the players are physically in a good place. It is obvious we are playing better than we were.

“They are winning duels against tough opposition, but we have to continue because this is a good level from us and it’s only enough for one point.”

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Andoni Iraola says Bournemouth cannot be happy after conceding a late equaliser against Aston Villa

On Dominic Solanke’s performance, Iraola said: “Dom scored one very good goal with good movement from a No 9 and he had two very close chances, but their goalkeeper was amazing.

“He read the situations very well and he has had three or four very clear chances, which is a good sign for the team for him personally. I hope he continues at this level.”

Emery: It’s a very good point

Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery: “It’s a very good point. I am very happy with the performance. We have to build a team and I am trying to give everyone chances.

“They have to feel important and playing with personality and get stronger, not only the first 11 but the squad.”

On Ollie Watkins, who was a fitness doubt heading into the fixture, Emery said: “He’s strong. When he’s feeling good physically he can play matches in a row like we are playing.”

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Unai Emery says Aston Villa are becoming more resilient and learning from their mistakes

How the match played out…

Fantasy Premier League stats

FPL stats: Bournemouth 2-2 Aston Villa

Goals Semenyo, Solanke | Bailey, Watkins
Assists Christie, Kerkez | Watkins, Diaby
Bonus points Christie (3) | Watkins (2) | Bailey (1)

Opta stats: Watkins is Mr Consistent for Villa

  • Ollie Watkins is only the fourth Aston Villa player to provide 6+ goals and 6+ assists in consecutive Premier League seasons for the club.
  • Aston Villa have now conceded in eight consecutive Premier League matches, their longest such run since a run of 11 between May and September 2022.
  • Bournemouth are now unbeaten in their last three Premier League matches (W2 D1), their longest unbeaten run in the competition since October 2022 (run of 6).
  • Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke has now scored seven league goals this season, his best return in a single Premier League season.

What’s next?

Saturday 9th December 5:00pm

Kick off 5:30pm

Bournemouth travel to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday (kick-off 7.30pm) before taking on Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

Up next for Aston Villa are two mouthwatering home fixtures. Manchester City visit Villa Park first on Wednesday (kick-off 8.15pm) before Arsenal make the journey to the West Midlands on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm), live on Sky Sports.

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