Daniel Sturridge helps Liverpool to win at Bournemouth

Cherries denied a clear penalty as second string visitors leave south coast with three points

If questions remain over Daniel Sturridge and his place in England's squad for the European Championship finals in June, the striker is doing a good job of answering them. He scored one and played a key role in the other as Liverpool, showing 10 changes from the heroics against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday night, tempered Bournemouth's hopes of ending their debut Premier League season in the top half.

Roberto Firmino, who struck the opener here four minutes before half-time, was the only starter from their stunning comeback against Jürgen Klopp's former team in midweek. Instead the German put plenty of faith in his young players to earn a third win in eight days.

Danny Ward notably impressed in goal on debut only to lose his clean sheet in added time when Joshua King halved the deficit and ensured a frantic final minute. Kevin Stewart looked assured in a holding midfield role; Sheyi Ojo showed flashes of danger in the first half; and Jordon Ibe played a part in both goals.

The game took quite while to get going, though. A couple of half-chances aside, the bulk of the opening 40 minutes of action took place in a congested midfield.


Perhaps the much-changed visitors just need time to gel. When they did, they required only five minutes to score the decisive goals, though Bournemouth might question their feeble defending for both.

Certainly the marking was off for the opener. Firmino had started the move on the right, working the ball left from where Ibe played a low cross to Sturridge. He drew four Bournemouth players but still managed to backheel goalwards. Artur Boruc, at full stretch, got a hand to it but Firmino, left completely untracked after feeding Ibe, instinctively darted towards the back post. He tapped in from close range.

Bournemouth may also be disappointed by their inability to get close on Sturridge for the second goal in added time. Ibe's lofted free-kick, after he was fouled by Ritchie, was met by Sturridge, who climbed above Tommy Elphick too easily before planting a clinical header into the bottom-left corner.

In search of a third to kill off any chance of a fightback, Firmino zipped a left-footed half-volley wide two minutes after the restart, while an audacious Sturridge lob, after a delightful through-ball from Joe Allen, beat an onrushing Boruc but bounced narrowly wide.

The Cherries were denied a route back into the game in the 61st minute when Mike Jones failed to penalise Kolo Touré for a blatant handball when under pressure from Lewis Grabban. Callum Wilson's home return – having been introduced in added time at Aston Villa last week following seven months out with a knee injury – buoyed the hosts but a fine Ward save from a Grabban header kept the two-goal buffer entering the final 10 minutes.

Bournemouth did dragg one back in added time when King pulled down a long ball from Andrew Surman before firing low past Ward.

Immediately after the restart the hosts piled forward and Steve Cook almost grabbed an unlikely equaliser when directing a Marc Pugh cross on to the roof of the net.

(Guardian service)