Danjuma strike the difference as Cherries hold on to beat spirited Canaries 1-0
Norwich City have lost their first Championship match of the season, being beaten 1-0 in a hard fought contest at Bournemouth - one of the teams the Canaries hope to be in the promotion mix with.
The teams were separated by a fine strike from Arnaut Danjuma in the 35th minute, with the visitors enjoying over 60 percent of possession in a more fluent display than the 2-2 home draw with Preston the previous week.
All the talk pre-match was about the absence of Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia from the squad, with Lukas Rupp and Przemek Placheta coming in for Cantwell and the injured Kieran Dowell.
News had broken earlier in the day that Leeds were interested in signing Cantwell in a deal for an initial £15million, with the absence of the creative duo following Daniel Farke’s pre-match press conference about players needing to retain focus ahead of the October 16 transfer deadline.
Max Aarons remained at right-back despite the high-profile speculation surrounding him in recent weeks but Farke had talked up Buendia’s return ahead of the game, having missing the opening matches through suspension and a shin knock.
It meant a switch to a 4-1-4-1 shape, with Tottenham loanee Oliver Skipp sitting deep and Kenny McLean slightly further forward with Rupp, and Placheta and Onel Hernandez on the wings.
There was a top-flight feel to the tempo of the first half in the south coast sunshine, with Tim Krul having to claim a Jack Stacey cross under pressure from Philip Billing and nearly letting a Jefferson Lerma cross from the right slip from his grasp before recovering early on.
City’s number one was in the right place to block a blast from Dominic Solanke in the 11th minute, after the Cherries striker had squeezed his effort past Ben Godfrey.
At the other end Asmir Begovic was equal to a powerful shot from Hernandez from the right side of the box three minutes later.
Krul was again called into action just after the half-hour mark, after tenacious work from Skipp to rob Lerma saw Philip Billing chip the ball to the back post, where right wing-back Stacey powered a header goalwards that Krul tipped behind.
The Canaries were enjoying plenty of the ball but struggling to get into the Bournemouth box, with Teemu Pukki particularly isolated against the home side’s three-man defence.
And it was the hosts who claimed the lead in the 35th minute, with Danjuma dropping a shoulder and rolling Christoph Zimmermann on the edge of the D, before thumping a left-footed effort low past Krul into the bottom-right corner.
The hosts retained that lead through to the break but only thanks to Begovic denying the lively Rupp, who started an attack only for Kenny McLean to push Pukki too wide, with the cut-back falling to Rupp on the edge of the box kindly and the German hitting a rising left-footed effort that the Bosnia & Herzegovina international did well to push wide.
The game continued in a similar pattern after the break, with the hosts staying solid and trying to pounce on the counter, with Danjuma and Solanke both testing Krul with powerful low shots from the edge of the box.
Canaries left-back Xavi Quintilla hit a swerving effort from 30 yards which Begovic could only punch up before claiming the loose ball.
There were big calls from City for a penalty in the 55th minute, as Max Aarons got on the end of a long ball forward from Skipp and clipped by Adam Smith after knocking the ball into the box.
The Cherries went straight up the other end and let Norwich off the hook when Solanke headed tamely wide with just Krul to beat from a Danjuma cross from the left.
Quintilla and Aarons both fired speculative efforts over as the visitors began to get more desperate, with Bournemouth replacing Solanke up front with Norway forward Josh King in the 67th minute.
McLean looped a header just wide from a deflected Aarons cross two minutes later, before being replaced by Mario Vrancic in City’s first change.
Adam Idah was on for Hernandez in the 74th minute, soon after Vracnic had curled a free-kick into the wall, after Diego Rico had been booked for pulling Pukki back in the right channel.
Jordan Hugill was introduced with 10 minutes remaining as both teams looked to be running out of steam and the striker very nearly got on the end of a Quintilla corner soon after his arrival, with desperate appeals for hand-ball against King as the striker cleared.
Hugill also looped a header goalwards from a Vrancic cross as City pushed for an equaliser, but the ball was claimed by Begovic under pressure from Idah.
Hugill continued to put himself about but couldn’t force any clear-cut chances as Bournemouth took no chances and held on to the points, with the big striker nodding an Aarons cross goalwards in injury-time.
Next up for the Canaries is a home clash with Derby County next Saturday, ahead of the October international break.
NORWICH (4-1-4-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann (C), Godfrey, Quintilla; Skipp; Hernandez (Idah 74), Rupp (Hugill 81), McLean (Vrancic 69), Placheta; Pukki. Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Gibson, Tettey, Martin
Booked: McLean (foul on Danjuma, 36)
BOURNEMOUTH (5-4-1): Begovic; Stacey, Mepham, Steve Cook (C), Rico, Smith; Lerma, Lewis Cook, Billing (Gosling 78), Danjuma (Surridge 86); Solanke (King 67). Unused subs: Travers (GK), Ofoborh, Simpson, Zemura
Booked: Rico (foul on Pukki, 71)
Goals: Danjuma (35)
REFEREE: James Linington
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