Bournemouth boss Howe admits things looked bleak against Leicester

LONDON (Reuters) - Even Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said he feared the worst for his side’s Premier League survival hopes when they trailed Leicester City 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.

Soccer Football - Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Leicester City - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - July 12, 2020 Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Glyn Kirk/Pool via REUTERS

Jamie Vardy’s goal after the kind of rank bad defending that had typified Bournemouth’s season looked like condemning Bournemouth to an eighth defeat in 10 games.

Instead, a remarkable second-half turnaround helped by a Leicester collapse saw Junior Stanislas equalise from the penalty spot and Dominic Solanke score either side of a Jonny Evans own goal to give the home side a 4-1 win.

Had Bournemouth lost, they would have probably needed three victories from their last three games to have any chance of staying up, and one of those is at Manchester City.

Instead they are now only three points adrift of Watford and West Ham United, who are just above the drop zone and face each other on Friday. A sixth successive top-flight season remains a possibility, even if Bournemouth are still in dire straights.

“It was almost the situation was as bleak as it could be, we had to find something, no fear,” Howe said. “We did that right from the off, and it vastly improved our performance.

“So pleased with the players because when everything looked like it was conspiring against us, we found something from somewhere. Against the odds, we showed great qualities, which has always been the hallmark of the team and the club.”

Former Liverpool forward Solanke’s brace were his first league goals of the season.

“We always believed Dom (Solanke) is an outstanding player. There is a lot of expectation on his shoulders, technically he is very good and very intelligent. I do think there is a lot of goals in him, and he proved that today,” Howe said.

His Leicester counterpart Brendan Rodgers now faces the real possibility of his side missing out on a top-four finish, after that had looked like a certainty for most of the season.

“In all the time I’ve been here I mentioned in the week about the strength of mentality in this team,” Rodgers said.

“But second half we were too soft in too many ways. That was the big disappointment. To end up losing 4-1, it was a big surprise, especially after the first half.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson