By Jonathan Nagioff (@jonathannagioff)
Callum Wilson’s injury time winner sent AFC Bournemouth through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, after a thrilling 3-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday night.
On a night where two penalties were awarded, and a red card was shown, Junior Stanislas fired Bournemouth ahead early in the first half on his return from a six month lay-off, with Jordon Ibe doubling the Cherries lead from the spot on the hour mark.
However, Rovers stunned the South Coast crowd, fighting back through second half strikes from Craig Conway and Adam Armstrong, who converted another spot kick to level the tie.
Yet, following a red card to Derrick Williams, Callum Wilson had the final say pouncing from a corner kick to send Bournemouth through in dramatic fashion.
Boss Eddie Howe had demanded a response from his side following their 4-0 drubbing at Burnley on Saturday and made nine changes, including handing a start to Jermain Defoe for just the second time this season.
Nevertheless, it was Tony Mowbray’s side who flew out the traps with forward Ben Brereton tapping home from close range before his finish was ruled out for offside.
The Cherries responded quickly with Jordan Ibe’s ripping effort landing just past goalkeeper David Raya’s near post.
Bournemouth almost opened the scoring minutes later with Simon Francis’ cross into the box, diverting off full back Amari’i Bell but Raya expertly tipped over.
Rovers’ stern resistance was soon over and fittingly it was Junior Stanislas, making his first appearance since March who broke the deadlock.
Francis again found space on the right and his cross fell on the half volley for Stanislas who smashed the ball past Raya.
Rovers, who currently sit 12th in the Championship table, did not allow their heads to drop and forward Adam Armstrong provided their biggest threat, as he raced through the Cherries defence on the half hour mark, but his effort was superbly blocked by Tyrone Mings.
The Cherries, who brushed aside MK Dons 3-0 in the last round searched for a second and some breathing space, but Raya was proving their nemesis between the sticks.
The Spanish stopper palmed away Defoe’s bullet header before running out of his goal to deny the former England forward again, who looked certain to score from six yards out.
The away side failed to create any major openings as the half drew to a close, with Joe Rothwell’s free kick sailing over Artur Boruc’s cross bar; the closest the visitors came to reducing the deficit.
Tony Mowbray was a vocal presence on the touchline during the first half and his team started the second period as they had begun the first, with Armstrong again powering through the box, however his strike trickled just past the far post, much to the relief of Boruc.
Rovers were soon made to pay for their miss, with referee Simon Hooper awarding the Cherries a penalty after a foul on Jordan Ibe.
Ibe stepped up to take the spot kick and calmly dispatched it into the corner, sending Raya the wrong way to double his tally in the competition, following his strike in the 3-0 win over MK Dons in round two.
The Cherries had a chance to seal the victory, but Defoe’s curling effort drifted over the bar.
Rovers took advantage of the missed opportunities, just after the hour mark with summer recruit Jefferson Lerma dispossessed in the midfield and Craig Conway striking past Boruc.
The tie soon turned on its head with the referee awarding the second spot kick of the night to Rovers, after Tyrone Mings brought down Ben Brereton in the area.
Adam Armstrong’s resulting penalty smashed against the post and trickled in to send the away support into ruptures and stun the majority Bournemouth following housed inside the Vitality.
Eddie Howe increased his attacking prowess with the introduction of Callum Wilson as the Cherries looked for a late winner in the closing stages.
Both sides could only produce half chances as the tie looked destined for penalties, in the newly formatted system which eliminated extra time, should a tie be level at 90 minutes.
Nevertheless, with four minutes added on there was time for a late drama show. Rovers defender Derrick Williams was sent off for deliberate handball after he picked up the ball following pressure from Callum Wilson.
And Wilson was to have the last say in astonishing style. The 26-year-old rocked the crossbar with a header from close range before heading home almost the final kick of the game from a corner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Tony Mowbray’s side soldiered on for an equaliser, but the Cherries held firm to progress into round four of the competition they reached the quarter finals of last season.