Liverpool missed the chance to leapfrog Tottenham Hotspur and move into the top four of the Premier League as Philip Billing‘s goal lifted Bournemouth off the bottom of the table with a 1-0 win at the Vitality Stadium.
The Reds started brightly and created an early flurry of opportunities, but they struggled to deal with the energy of Bournemouth’s front three and Jurgen Klopp’s men fell behind when Dango Ouattara‘s low cross was swept home by Billing near the half-hour mark.
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The visitors, visibly stunned, struggled to muster a meaningful response. When they did, they lacked the required composure in front of goal as Virgil van Dijk glanced wide before Mohamed Salah made a hash of things from the spot after Adam Smith was harshly penalised for handball.
Bournemouth found themselves sitting increasingly deeper as the minutes ticked down, but the hosts held on to secure an unlikely yet deserved victory to move out of the bottom three.
Liverpool were quick out of the blocks and would have been in front if not for a brilliant goal-line clearance by Jefferson Lerma. If nothing else, the Reds showed good character in their positive response after the break.
The visitors always looked susceptible to the counter-attack, and they had no answer to the electric Ouattara who ran them ragged and forced the opener when his cross was converted by Billing.
Manager rating out of 10
Jurgen Klopp, 6 — It’s tough to put the blame on Klopp for this one. Too many of his key men were well short of their best, and the German’s decision to move Gakpo to midfield improved his side’s performance considerably.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 6 — Survived a big scare when he was rounded by Ouattara who could only blast into the side-netting, although the goalkeeper had been left exposed and he did just enough to force the Bournemouth striker wide. Well-beaten by Billing’s cool finish.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 3 — Lacked his usual sharpness in possession and he was poor defensively. Created Bournemouth’s best chance of the game when his attempted crossfield pass went wrong, and he made a mess of a shot at goal with a half-volley to delight the home fans.
DF Ibrahima Konate, 5 — The defender had a mixed afternoon, looking shaky in spells and struggled to contain Ouattara, who he played onside for the goal. But he relieved the pressure when he rescued Alexander-Arnold and charged forward before drawing the foul from Lerma.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 4 — Sluggish. Desperately close to a second goal in three games when his downward header was scrambled off the line, but he allowed Ouattara to breeze past him to set up the opener. Later glanced another huge chance wide.
DF Andy Robertson, 6 — Created a problem when his burst forward on the left was picked out by a lovely, dissecting pass from Alexander-Arnold, but Nunez couldn’t convert his cross. Forced a fine, instinctive stop from Neto with a powerful strike across goal.
MF Stefan Bajcetic, 4 — A quiet performance in the middle, and he failed to suppress the quality of Billing, who was a real nuisance as the hosts continued to grow in confidence.
MF Harvey Elliott, 4 — Overpowered in midfield by Philip Billing at times, who eased Elliott off the ball before driving forward and winning a free kick from Konate. Unsurprisingly withdrawn at the break.
MF Fabinho, 3 — There was a slight sense of desperation about Liverpool after falling behind and that was summed up when the Brazilian fired well wide of goal as he attempted the spectacular, while he put a wasteful pass straight out of play after the break.
FW Mohamed Salah, 3 — Saw his tame early effort easily gobbled up by Neto and he found chances hard to come by beyond that, which made his blunder from the penalty spot even more costly as the forward blazed well wide when Liverpool desperately needed an equaliser.
FW Darwin Nunez, 5 — Almost crafted the perfect start for his side when he pulled the ball back for Salah, but the Egyptian couldn’t get the contact he was after. Later saw a low-driven effort of his held by Neto again.
FW Cody Gakpo, 6 — Continued his fine run of form in front of goal inside 13 minutes only to be thwarted by the offside flag. Dropped into midfield after the break, which allowed him the space he needed to make more of an impact, but he wasted a last-gasp chance to level.
FW Diogo Jota, 6 — Replaced Elliott at the break and almost made an instant impact, but his curling effort was well-saved by Neto. Offered his side a way back when his header was deemed to have been handled by Smith, but Salah couldn’t capitalise.
MF James Milner, 6 — Replaced Alexander-Arnold in the 65th minute but had little opportunity to make any impact of note.
MF Jordan Henderson, 6 — Replaced Fabinho in the 65th minute, but even the skipper couldn’t shift Liverpool’s performance up through the gears.
FW Roberto Firmino, 6 — Replaced Nunez in the 66th minute but the departing forward never really had a sight of goal.
MF Fabio Carvalho, N/R — A late cameo for the creative youngster who replaced Bajcetic in the 88th minute.