Arnaut Danjuma’s superb second-half finish gave Bournemouth a 1-0 first-leg advantage to take to Brentford in their Championship play-off semi-final.
The Dutchman struck in the 55th minute after a sweeping counterattack by the home side but it is all still to play for.
The Cherries lost their final three games of the season, while Brentford won four in a row. But it is the south-coast outfit that hold a slender advantage ahead of Saturday’s second encounter.
They are looking to make an immediate return to the top flight while Brentford have yet to grace the Premier League. With so much at stake, it was understandably a cagey opening in front of 2,000 fans at the Vitality Stadium.
But the game burst into life on nine minutes as Tariqe Fosu seemed to be felled by Adam Smith in the area.
However, the referee saw it differently and waved play on. Jefferson Lerma tried his luck from distance as the hosts began to find their feet.
His effort flew wide and Philip Billing came close to opening the scoring two minutes later but skewed his shot wide. Dominic Solanke then hit the woodwork for the hosts as Jonathan Woodgate’s men took control.
The Cherries defence managed to keep the prolific Ivan Toney quiet. And they nearly took the lead through Steve Cook just before the break.
The defender’s header was well saved by David Raya and David Brooks’ follow-up shot was blocked by Toney.
Ten minutes into the second half Bournemouth were in front thanks to Danjuma. Solanke found Brooks after a quick break and his cross was neatly tucked away by the Dutchman.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank responded to the goal with a triple substitution. Rico Henry, Emiliano Marcondes and Bryan Mbeumo replaced Mads Roerslev, Fosu and Marcus Forss.
And Asmir Begovic denied Marcondes with an important stop on 67 minutes. As the full-time whistle approached, Bees forward Bryan Mbeumo slid in unmarked to get on the end of Christian Norgaard’s low cross.
But he somehow managed to put the ball wide from no more than four yards out.
Full report to follow…
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