If Bournemouth thought that having escaped the lower divisions for the Premier League the contest would now be about brain rather than brawn they were given a crude awakening by Leicester City at Dean Court.
The Cherries ended the match battered, bruised and disappointed after Jamie Vardy’s late penalty cancelled out Callum Wilson’s goal.
Three players had to be substituted with injuries, including £8m club record signing Tyrone Mings who lasted only six minutes after being brought on at half-time.
Mings only came on because Charlie Daniels was injured. Bournemouth also lost Max Gradel after one whack too many from Ritchie De Laet, and had others limping at the finish.
Manager Eddie Howe said he had no issues with Leicester, adding generously: “It is a physical game.”
One player who did finish the match but should not have was Leicester centre-half Robert Huth . He fouled Wilson soon after the break, kicked the ball at the prone player’s head when he was penalised, then pushed Mings in the face as the defender remonstrated with him. Referee Neil Swarbrick settled for a yellow card.
The physicality was not all one way. Bournemouth’s Lee Tomlin clattered Riyad Mahrez in the opening minute. Mahrez barely registered after that and was withdrawn at half-time.
“Mahrez took a kick from the beginning and he slowed down,” said Claudio Ranieri, Leicester manager.
Just as Tomlin was Howe’s only alteration from the XI that won at West Ham last weekend, Ranieri also made one change, stiffening the midfield by introducing N’Golo Kante for Shinji Okazaki.
This stifled Bournemouth’s attacking game but at the cost of reducing his own team to just one attempt during the opening half, a curled shot over from Vardy (pictured).
It took Bournemouth, probing on both wings, 23 minutes to manage a shot on target, but what a shot it was. Daniels cut in from the left, playing a 1-2 with Tomlin before delivering a cross that reached Gradel whose header looped up off Huth. Wilson reacted quickest scoring with a classic bicycle kick.
Bournemouth should have had a penalty 10 minutes later when Kante fouled Tomlin just inside the box. Swarbrick, though well-placed, gave a free-kick, a decision that left Howe “very aggrieved”.
At the break Ranieri said he told his teams to be “like gladiators”, adding “you can lose but you have to fight”. City began to press higher up the pitch and, with injuries affecting their fluency, Bournemouth were pushed back. Artur Boruc became the busier ‘keeper denying Jeff Schlupp and Danny Drinkwater while Tommy Elphick made a crucial tackle on Okazaki. Then Eunan O’Kane was caught in possession and Vardy broke forward, bursting past defenders until he was tripped in the box by Steve Cook. Vardy drove in the spot kick for his second goal of the season.
“We deserved it,” said Ranieri, and they did.Reuse content