Having tuned in to watch AFC Wimbledon’s FA Cup tie at Curzon Ashton myself, there was little chance that I or any others watching would expect a repeat of what happened in the closing stages of that match up in Tameside, Greater Manchester. Three goals down against the non-leaguers going into the final ten minutes, League One side Wimbledon rallied from three goals down before winning the game 4-3, an astonishing comeback amongst even the greatest of comebacks. Surely it was to be the game of the day across the country, but somehow Bournemouth matched, if not trumped it, little more than an hour and a half later.
Playing host to Liverpool, the Cherries were 3-1 down going into the final 15 minutes, with only Callum Wilson’s penalty to show for their efforts whilst Sadio Mané, Divock Origi and Emre Can had netted for the Reds. What followed however was remarkable, 55th minute substitute Ryan Fraser, who had won the penalty that Wilson converted, sumptuously curled home his first Premier League goal to cut the deficit to 3-2, before the same man provided for Steve Cook to swivel and volley home just two minutes later to restore parity on 78 minutes.
And the drama didn’t end there. Deep into stoppage time, Steve Cook’s effort was spilled by visiting goalkeeper Loris Karius, and on-loan Chelsea defender Nathan Aké nipped in to tap the ball home and seal a famous victory for Eddie Howe’s men.
But just how did Bournemouth, who looked down and out initially having gone 2-0 down within 22 minutes, and again after Can had replied to Wilson’s penalty, manage to haul themselves back into and ultimately win this contest?
Much is owed to Eddie Howe’s inspired introduction of Ryan Fraser, the former Aberdeen man and Scottish U-21 international who was thrown into the fray on 55 minutes in place of Junior Stanislas with Bournemouth two goals down.
The 22-year-old made an instant impact, as he took the ball past Liverpool left-back James Milner with his first touch of the ball and was brought down by the veteran to win the hosts a penalty. Callum Wilson duly converted, and that was the first-step into bringing the Cherries back into the contest.
Sadly, it was to be short-lived revival, at least initially, with Emre Can’s 20-yard effort beating Artur Boruc to resore Liverpool’s two-goal cushion.
Fraser wasn’t done yet however, and he found himself in the right place at the right time yet again on 76 minutes. Callum Wilson’s cross and ricocheted off the heels of Benik Afobe, and Fraser latched onto the loose ball to slot the ball home beyond Karius and get Bournemouth back within one of the visitors.
As well as vitally freshening up the Cherries’ attack, Fraser also did his bit defensively for his team, putting in one block inside his own box, whilst winning half of his attempted tackles and giving no fouls away as Liverpool once again threatened.
The influential winger, who had already proved a game-changer in winning the penalty, then turned provider again, and it was his cross of course which found centre-half Steve Cook, who had joined the attack, and with his back to goal he was able to volley an effort at goal on the turn which flew beyond Karius and sent the home supporters into jubilation, which turned pandemonium in stoppage time when Aké netted the winner.
Fraser was only on the pitch for 36 minutes, but in that time he managed to register a goal, win a penalty and provide an assist to help Bournemouth win the game. Bar his key impacts in attack and defensively, he also proved an influential playmaker out on the left as the hosts grew into the game and began to stifle Liverpool’s attack, maintaining a pass accuracy of 89%, allowing the hosts to keep the ball and keep plugging away at Liverpool’s advantage.
All in all, it was an inspired substitution from Eddie Howe, as the young Scot proved a thorn in the side of Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. Furthermore, after an ineffective display from Junior Stanislas, this impact performance from Fraser will surely see him knocking on the manager’s door for a start in their next game, when they travel to Turf Moor to face Howe’s former club Burnley.
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