Benteke nets on Anfield bow as Liverpool beat Bournemouth
Liverpool joined local rivals Manchester United, Man City and Leicester in maintaining a 100 per cent Premier League record with a narrow victory over Bournemouth. Coral now make the Merseysiders 5/4 for a top four finish.
Christian Benteke’s close range finish after 25 minutes proved the difference, as Cherries winger Matt Ritchie spurned several sights of the home goal in response.
While Brendan Rodgers named the same starting XI that edged Stoke City on the opening day, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe gave a full bow to summer signing Max Gradel and Eunan O’Kane came into midfield. Dan Gosling and Cherries stalwart Marc Pugh made way.
Tommy Elphick thought he had given the visitors an early lead when nodding in a corner, but referee Craig Pawson saw his hands all over Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren and ruled the header out.
This bright Bournemouth start was belied, however, when Benteke scored on 25 minutes. Jordan Henderson worked a corner routine, getting into a better position to cross.
An offside Philippe Coutinho tried to play the ball, but assistant official Harry Lennard kept his flag down on the far side and big Belgian striker Benteke broke his Reds duck at the back post.
Howe almost saw his Cherries caught out from another training ground set-piece routine moments later. Henderson grazed the top of the bar with a first-time strike from James Milner’s free-kick, which the visitors expected to be tossed into their box.
Coutinho could have added to Liverpool’s lead before the break, but screwed wide when a one-two ricocheted back to him off a Bournemouth defender. The creative Brazilian also saw an early second-half strike deflected narrowly wide.
Ritchie’s wicked strike on the hour would have brought Bournemouth level, but crashed off the outside of Simon Mignolet’s post. Howe’s Cherries piled on the pressure, but ultimately failed to work the home goalie.
Charlie Daniels’ last-ditch challenge denied Coutinho on the counter, and Benteke came close to a second late on, but scuffed his shot against the bar from six yards.
Rodgers’ Reds are winning games ugly and that stands them in good stead. Bournemouth were once again hard done by, which is already becoming the story of their maiden Premier League campaign, and they have already been cut for relegation into 5/4 as a result.