AFC Bournemouth 2, Brighton 1: Albion let lead slip as Cherries clinch first points of Premier League campaign
Brighton & Hove Albion surrendered a second-half lead as they were beaten 2-1 by slow starters AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium this evening.
In the opening clash of the Premier League weekend, the Seagulls took a second-half lead in Sky Sport's live Friday night game through a Solly March header.
It came from another Pascal Gross assist as it looked the like the Seagulls could send the Cherries to their fifth straight defeat.
But Eddie Howe's previously pointless side rallied and soon responded to turn things around with substitute Jordon Ibe playing a big part.
Seconds after coming on, he first executed a neat one-two with Andrew Surman, who finished well to level, and then fed Jermain Defoe to put the hosts ahead on 74 minutes.
And that was the way it remained as Albion failed to make it back-to-back wins in the top flight, being dealt a somewhat harsh defeat.
It came after a cagey first half with the hosts having the better of the chances, the best a turn and shot from Defoe that whistled narrowly wide. Albion meanwhile struggled to find any potency and didn't even register a touch in their opposition's box.
The Seagulls were forced into making one change from the side that secured their first-ever Premier League success against West Bromwich Albion last weekend.
Captain Bruno, who it had been said would be fit, missed out with a back injury sustained in that previous game and was replaced by Liam Rosenior.
For the Cherries, Simon Francis, Marc Pugh and Surman all came into the starting line in as Howe made three changes from their 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal last time out.
After an tight opening few minutes, the first shot came from an Albion boot as Anthony Knockaert cut in off his right-wing berth, took a few long strides forwards, but sent his effort from 25 yards wide of the right post.
Brighton almost gifted their hosts the lead on 14 minutes as Shane Duffy's misplaced pass across the back four went straight to Josh King, but luckily Lewis Dunk - captain in Bruno's absence, got across to block the Bournemouth's man effort from the edge of the box.
Six minutes later saw Charlie Daniels on the left tee-up Pugh, who switched his feet inside the box, but blazed his left-foot effort over on the angle.
A nice Albion counter attack on the half hour came as Harry Arter gave the ball to Davy Propper. The Dutchman drove forwards, beat two men, but his clipped effort landed on the roof of the net. Straight down the other end, Defoe's sharp turn and flashed shot went just wide of the far post.
It was a frantic start to the second half as Surman twice headed off the line to deny Albion the lead. Duffy and Propper's effort were both got away by the defender, while Dale Stephens's header then came down off the bar, the goaline and into Asmir Begovic's arms.
But the visitors weren't made to regret those chances as they led on 55 minutes. Gross was again the provider as he made yards down the right and whipped a delicious ball to the far post where March headed into the far bottom corner.
The Cherries responded immediately with pressure and leveled the scores on 66 minutes. Surman played a one-two with substitute Ibe and he then fainted past a diving Dunk in the box and finished neatly.
The visitors had captain Dunk to thank they weren't behind two minutes later as his superb block turned Ibe's goalbound shot over the bar after Duffy's clearance fell to the Bournemouth man.
But it was just delaying things as from the resulting corner, Ibe picked out Defoe in the box and the clinical finisher, superbly found the bottom corner with a trademark effort.
Chris Hughton quickly turned to his bench and Jose Izquierdo and Glenn Murray replaced Knockart and Gross. But that changed very little as the home side looked the more likely to extend their lead, despite Albion also throwing Duffy up front in the closing stages.
Albion: Ryan; Rosenior, Dunk, Duffy, Suttner; Knockaert (Izquierdo 76), Stephens, Propper, March; Gross (Murray 76); Hemed. Unused subs: Maenpaa, Huenemeier, Goldson, Schelotto, Murphy.
Bournemouth: Begovic; A.Smith, Francis, Ake, Daniels; Fraser (Ibe 65), Arter, Surman, Pugh; King (Gosling 90); Defoe (Afobe 78). Unused subs: Boruc, Mings, L.Cook, Mousset.
Referee: Craig Pawson.