Match Reports

Mitoma magic as Albion pick off the Cherries

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Japanese winger scores two goals off the bench in 3-1 Amex win over Bournemouth.

By Bruce Talbot • 24 September 2023

By Paul Hazlewood
Kaoru Mitoma celebrates after scoring his second in the win over Bournemouth.

Substitute Kaoru Mitoma made a sensational second-half impact as Albion claimed three successive Premier League wins for the first time in nearly five years.

The Japanese sorcerer took just 15 seconds to score with his first touch after coming on at the break to put Albion in front after Milos Kerkez’s own goal had cancelled out Dominic Solanke’s opener for the Cherries.

And it was Mitoma who made the points safe 13 minutes from time with a glancing header for his fourth goal of the season.

Albion had to work hard for a win that lifts us up to third in the table and Bart Verbruggen more than made up for his error which gifted the Cherries the lead with two top saves in the second half.

By Paul Hazlewood
Kaoru Mitoma puts Albion in front with his first touch.

Lewis Dunk returned after injury to a team showing nine changes to that beaten by AEK Athens on Thursday. Only Billy Gilmour, who was named man of the match after an energetic display, and Pervis Estupinan kept their place and there was a first start of the season for Facundo Buonanotte.

Both sides spent the opening quarter sizing each other up and it was pretty uneventful fare until Bournemouth went in front on 25 minutes.

Until then the visitors hadn’t pressed Verbruggen, allowing the keeper to advance as much as ten yards outside his area on one occasion before finding a teammate. But when he dawdled for an extra second assessing his options Ryan Christie half-blocked his clearance and the ball ran kindly for an unmarked Solanke to lift it into an empty net.

By Bennett Dean
Joel Veltman is brought down in the first half.

Albion had struggling to make headway but they were gifted an equaliser in first-half stoppage time. Dunk and Adam Webster had gone close from close range following a corner and when Albion recycled the ball Gilmour swung over a cross from deep on the left which skimmed off Kerkez’s head and past Neto, a real bonus for the hosts.

Mitoma and Ansu Fati came on at the break and within 15 seconds of the restart they combined as Albion went in front. Fati began the move down the left, Mo Dahoud’s clever pass picked out Mitoma who slid the ball past Neto from close range with a deft flick of his right foot.

Christie wasn’t far away from connecting with Billing’s inviting ball in from the right as Bournemouth tried to respond; at the other end Dunk met Gilmour’s corner cleanly but headed down and wide then Fati couldn’t guide Simon Adingra’s tempting cross goalwards after another fine Albion move.

By Paul Hazlewood
Evan Ferguson wins a header under pressure from Illia Zabarnyi.

Bournemouth were still a threat and Verbruggen blocked Antoine Semenyo’s angled effort but Albion had found their rhythm and made it 3-1 in the 77th minute. Carlos Baleba, who had just come on, won a 50-50 with Christie and found Gilmour. The Scot waited for Pervis Estupian to overlap and Estupian’s teasing left-wing cross was glanced home by an unmarked Mitoma from close range.

Dunk brilliantly cleared Solanke’s cross off the line after Verbruggen superbly kept out Semenyo’s powerful strike and Estupian made a sensational block to deny David Brooks late on but the points were safe. 

Albion: Verbruggen, Veltman, Webster, Dunk, Estupinan, Adingra (Lamptey 87), Gilmour, Dahoud (Baleba 73), Buonanotte (Mitoma 45), Welbeck (Joao 63), Ferguson (Fati 45).

Subs not used: Steele, Lamptey, Igor, March, Lallana.

Referee: John Brooks.

Attendance: 31,617