Arnaut Danjuma’s cool finish gives Bournemouth slim advantage in playoff
Bryan Mbeumo wasted Brentford’s best chance in first leg encounter
Bournemouth’s Arnaut Danjuma scores his side’s goal during the Sky Bet Championship playoff semi-final, first leg against Brentford at the Vitality Stadium. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Bournemouth 1 Brentford 0
With the stakes high and the pressure on, enter Arnaut Danjuma, whose effortless finish capped a devastating counterattack to earn Bournemouth a leg-up against Brentford in the Championship playoffs. This was a delicately poised occasion, which was ultimately settled by one slick breakaway, but there is still at least another 90 minutes to play in the quest to reach Wembley.
At the final whistle there was a hearty roar from the delirious home support but these teams will do it all again on Saturday at Brentford’s glistening new stadium. Bournemouth finished the regular season with a whimper – three straight defeats – while Brentford, who finished third in the table for the second successive season were unbeaten in 12. However, as Bournemouth manager Jonathan Woodgate had preached beforehand, form is irrelevant in games like these.
Bournemouth finished strongly – Danjuma went close to a second with a fizzing free-kick – but had to endure a couple of hairy moments. Brentford’s manager, Thomas Frank, responded to going behind by making a triple change and one of the substitutes, Bryan Mbeumo, could only look to the skies and smile in disbelief after somehow failing to divert Christian Nørgaard’s cross with the goal gaping. Nørgaard himself ballooned over with the clock ticking late on.
“Welcome back, we’ve missed you” was the message that greeted 2,379 returning supporters on the big screens in the corners of this stadium and they created a carnival atmosphere before kick-off. Bournemouth’s players received a rousing standing ovation from all sides as they headed on to the pitch for the warm-up as Woodgate waved to supporters for the first time following his appointment in February. For some fans, this was their first game since Eddie Howe departed following relegation.
How the supporters successful in the ballot cherished every ball. The home support had plenty to shout about in an entertaining and oscillating first half but Bournemouth will have been the more disappointed at the interval after registering a few near misses. After all, in the build-up Frank had maintained the importance of staying in the tie.
Dominic Solanke struck the upright with a header under pressure from Ethan Pinnock but Philip Billing passed up arguably the best chance of the bunch moments earlier, skewing wide after the overlapping Adam Smith found him in the area. Billing covered his face with both hands.
Solanke, too, was guilty of misplacing the final piece of the jigsaw. When Tariqe Fosu failed to nick the ball on the edge of the Bournemouth box following a Brentford corner, Solanke charged forward as the hosts charged forward at breakneck speed, as they later did for the goal.
Bournemouth were suddenly two against one, with only Mads Roerslev to beat, but Solanke played a poor pass behind the advancing Danjuma to his right and, in the end, Vitaly Janelt was on hand to clean up.
Bournemouth looked dangerous going forward but vulnerable defensively in what turned out to be an enthralling game for the neutral.
Brentford had the first whiff of goal when Roerslev centred the ball after raiding down the right flank, causing panic in the box. In the nervy minutes that followed the Bournemouth captain Cook, who was forced off before the interval through injury, made a couple of crucial clearances. Cook oozed calm and had the measure of Toney and his strike partner, Marcus Forss.
In the build-up Frank acknowledged the importance of cool heads and Danjuma was unflappable when the match-winning moment arrived 10 minutes into the second half.
The Dutch winger collected the ball deep inside the Bournemouth half after the Brentford captain Pontus Jansson ran into trouble on the right flank and Danjuma scurried forward, feeding Solanke, who sprayed the ball wide to Brooks. Danjuma carried on his run, bursting down the left flank and taking Brooks’s perfectly-weighted pass in his stride before applying an ice-cool finish, leaving Jansson on his backside. – Guardian