Sasa Kalajdzic gives Wolves late win on Gary O’Neil’s return to Bournemouth

By Sports Desk October 21, 2023

Sasa Kalajdzic fired a late winner as Wolves completed a 2-1 comeback over 10-man Bournemouth at Vitality Stadium.

Dominic Solanke gave the home support hope of a first win of the season when he handed his side the lead in the first half on ex-Cherries boss Gary O’Neil’s first trip back to his former side.

It was all square two minutes after the break thanks to Matheus Cunha before the afternoon further unraveled for the hosts when Lewis Cook was sent off for a headbutt on Hwang Hee-chan .

Bournemouth had their chances and managed to keep things level until deep into the second period, but the late drama left the Cherries mired in an abysmal start to their campaign.

While O’Neil insisted his first trip back to Bournemouth was strictly business, one could forgive any deja vu he might have experienced standing in the opposite dugout, now managing the team he faced as a first-time Premier League manager last season.

This time it was a Cherries player, not a manager, who marked his Premier League debut with Andoni Iraola handing now-fit summer signing Alex Scott a start.

Both keepers were tested early, the hosts working the ball to David Brooks, who forced Jose Sa into a simple save with a rolling effort from the right.

A flurry of activity at the other end of the pitch soon saw Pedro Neto – making his 100th Premier League appearance – smash an effort off the crossbar, Cunha denied by Cherries keeper Neto, and Hwang – in the hunt for his seventh goal in nine games – nod wide.

With the unrelenting back-and-forth nature of the period still sustained it felt like a goal was imminent, and it soon came via another well-linked sequence beginning with Brooks finding Philip Billing.

The Denmark international slipped the ball to Solanke, who opened the scoring with a backheeled finish from six yards out, the 1-0 advantage standing at the break despite both sides threatening.

Wolves were level less than two minutes after the restart when Cunha fired past a diving Neto and soon it all began to unravel for the hosts, who were down to 10 men after Cook went in for a headbutt on Hwang and was shown a straight red after a VAR review.

The mood in the stadium, bursting with hope after Solanke’s opener, quickly soured as the officials broke up the ensuing fracas, though spirits somewhat lifted when substitute Ryan Christie was able to break loose and force Sa into a low save.

The hosts were given a boost when Neto squandered a late chance by firing his effort over the crossbar.

The Cherries sparked back to life after Dango Ouattara battled to win the ball deep inside Wolves’ half and had chances through Joe Rothwell and Billing, but after deftly defending deep into the second half, saw a potential point slip away when Hwang played through Kalajdzic, who side-footed in the winner.

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