Express & Star

Bournemouth 2 Aston Villa 2 - Report

Ollie Watkins scored his 14th goal of the season as Villa left it late to snatch a point at Bournemouth.


The England striker headed home substitute Moussa Diaby’s cross in the 90th minute to earn Unai Emery’s out-of-sorts team a share of the spoils at the Vitality Stadium.

Leon Bailey has earlier cancelled out Antoine Semenyo’s opener for the hosts, with Diego Carlos then seeing a goal disallowed following a lengthy VAR check.

Dominic Solanke then put the Cherries back in front only for Watkins to square things up again at the death.


Watkins’ goal came from a rare moment of quality in a second half where they struggled to make much headway.

Goalkeeper Emi Martinez was their undoubted man-of-the-match having twice denied Solanke in stunning fashion.

That said, Villa also got the rough end of the stick when it came to refereeing decisions. Bournemouth goalscorer Semenyo was fortunate not to receive a second yellow card for pulling back Bailey, with Ryan Christie also getting away with a blatant shirt pull on Watkins in the box.

Carlos’ goal, ruled out for offside after a VAR check which lasted more than three minutes, was also an incredibly marginal decision.

The point should at least keep Villa in the top four heading into Wednesday’s visit of champions Manchester City, which is followed by a home match against Arsenal on Saturday.

Marcus Tavernier bent an effort wide in the first minute, yet Villa had actually settled into the match rather well before falling behind.

Nicolo Zaniolo, restored to the starting line-up for the first time in nearly a month and booed with every touch having turned down a move to Bournemouth in January, fizzed an effort well over the bar, before Douglas Luiz brought the first save of the match from home keeper Neto after flicking the ball over the head of Lewis Cook.

But momentum shifted on 10 minutes when the hosts were gifted the opener. Carlos passed straight to Christie, who had the simple task of picking out Semenyo to finish low beyond Martinez.

The scorer was proving Bournemouth’s best outlet and he forced the Villa keeper to save with his legs as the visitors took time to recover from the blow of going behind.

It required a moment of individual quality from Bailey to settle things down and bring them level. The Jamaica international took advantage of time and space to cut in from the right and hammer a low left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Then came two moments of controversy. First Semenyo, already booked for bringing down Bailey, avoided a second despite tugging the winger’s shirt. From the free-kick Villa thought they had taken the lead when Carlos converted at close range but after a VAR check which took more than three minutes, the goal was chalked off due to Lucas Digne being marginally offside in the build-up.

Semenyo continued to cause havoc. After forcing Martinez into a superb fingertip save, his low cross saw the keeper brilliantly deny Solanke at close range. Another ball was then driven across the box, just too far in front of the striker.

Having survived that spell, Villa probably should have lead at the break but when Bailey crossed, Luiz drove straight at Neto from eight yards out.

That felt a big moment when, within seven minutes of the restart, Bournemouth retook the lead. Milos Kerkez beat Bailey to Martinez’s clearance and raced forward to cross for Solanke, who took advantage of ample time and space to turn and finish.

Villa were struggling to make headway, though perhaps unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Christie grabbed hold of a fistful of Watkins’ shirt at a corner.

But they were again indebted to Martinez for denying Solanke at point-blank range after Tavernier had pounced on a loose Digne pass and run from deep inside the Villa half.

Emery introduced Jhon Duran off the bench and the striker saw a shot deflect off Marcos Senesi and go spinning off the post.

Still you could not see where a leveller would come from until Diaby crossed wickedly from the right and Watkins superbly headed past Neto.

Key Moments

10 GOAL Bournemouth lead following an error by Diego Carlos. He passes straight to Ryan Christie, who plays in Antoine Semenyo to finish past Martinez.

20 GOAL Leon Bailey levels for Villa, cutting in from the right wing and hammering a low shot into the bottom corner.

22 VAR Villa think they have the lead when Carlos converts at close range but after a lengthy VAR check the goal is ruled out for offside in the build-up.

52 GOAL Bournemouth retake the lead. Milos Kerkez beats Bailey to a clearance and races forward to cross for Dominic Solanke, who scores on the turn.

90 GOAL Ollie Watkins salvages a point for Villa, heading home Moussa Diaby’s cross.


Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Neto, Smith, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kerkez (Mepham 83), Cook, Christie, Semenyo (Sinisterra 70), Kluivert (Billing 70), Tavernier (Ouattara 90+3), Solanke Subs not used: Brooks, Rothwell, Moore, Traore, Travers (gk).

Villa (4-4-2): Martinez, Konsa (Cash 74), Carlos, Torres, Digne (Moreno 74), McGinn (Duran 65), Tielemans, Luiz, Zaniolo (Ramsey HT), Bailey (Diaby 74), Watkins Subs not used: Lenglet, Dendoncker, Iroegbunam, Olsen (gk).