15 September 2017
Jermain Defoe fired Bournemouth to their first win of the Premier League season to relieve mounting pressure on boss Eddie Howe.
The 34-year-old rifled his first Bournemouth goal in 16 years, as the Cherries came from behind to sink visitors Brighton 2-1.
Solly March’s header had Brighton dreaming of a second successive Premier League win but Andrew Surman coolly levelled before England poacher Defoe stole the victory.
Defoe last scored for Bournemouth on a loan spell in May 2001, and the veteran exhibited all his stunning staying power to settle this south coast derby.
Bournemouth were in real danger of losing five successive Premier League matches for the first time when March capped a flowing move, but manager Howe’s men responded in style to kick-start their season.
Defoe has turned out for West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Toronto FC and Sunderland since his loan stint on the south coast as a teenage goalscorer of rich promise.
A full generation of strikers has come and gone in between, but still Defoe keeps on delivering, adding again to his impressive haul that included 15 Premier League goals with the Black Cats last term.
The Cherries’ success leaves Crystal Palace as the final top-flight team still seeking points, with Defoe securing a crucial boost to boss Howe.
Super sub Jordon Ibe laid on both goals in a clinical cameo that will raise hopes of the former Liverpool starlet finally making good on his Â£15million transfer fee.
A nervy first-half saw Shane Duffy play in Josh King and Harry Arter hand possession straight to Davy Propper. Neither man could produce a finish however, leaving the clash deadlocked at the break.
Bournemouth wasted 65 per cent of first-half possession and almost paid an immediate price after the break, when Dale Stephens hit the bar after a Brighton corner.
The emboldened visitors then struck with a clinical and eye-catching move, Pascal Gross chesting down to Anthony Knockaert who immediately played the ball back into the German’s path.
March then despatched Gross’ whipped cross with a smart header, sucking all the air out of Bournemouth and their fans.
Here was the killer instinct Howe’s hosts craved so desperately, cruelly distilled into a goal magicked from little more than three touches.
Howe had asked his men for fight though, and that steel showed itself in an equaliser of high quality.
Surman traded passes with Ibe, collecting the replacement’s neat backheel, cut inside Lewis Dunk’s rash challenge – and coolly side-footed home.
With the match finally alight, Ibe had a rasping shot blocked by Dunk, while Brighton’s new talisman Gross was desperately seeking medical attention.
Gross eventually found his feet and returned to the pitch – but not before Ibe had played in Defoe, who turned, scurried on and buried a drive past Seagulls goalkeeper Mathew Ryan. A timely finish from a timeless striker.