By Jonathan Nagioff (@JonathanNagioff)
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe says Liverpool’s contentious first goal had a “massive bearing” on the how the game panned out, after Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
Mohammad Salah scored a controversial opener, after Asmir Begovic spilled Roberto Firmino’s effort straight into the path of the Egyptian talisman, who calmly slotted the ball home.
However, replays show that Salah was in an offside position when Firmino launched his shot and should have been called offside, a decision Howe was frustrated with at full time.
“(It was a) difficult match obviously, tough scoreline,” Howe said in his post-match press conference.
“I thought the first goal had a massive bearing on the game because at that moment I thought we were okay.
“Our shape was good, Liverpool hadn’t opened us up at that point and the goal shouldn’t have stood, so it had a huge bearing on the match and ultimately then we got ourselves back into the game.
“I felt it was well set up at half time for us and then we started making some individual mistakes which really hurt us.”
Salah was at his free-scoring best on the South Coast and doubled Liverpool’s advantage just after the restart with another coolly taken finish.
After Steve Cook scored an own goal to extend the visitors’ lead, last year’s PFA player of the season completed his hattrick with a sublime piece of skill, drifting past Begovic twice before showing the composure to slot the ball home.
And Howe believes his side were facing one of the world’s best.
Howe continued: “He looked very good today.
“His movement was very good, he looked razor sharp.
“We did struggle to handle him, he’s one of the best in the world in my opinion, he’s obviously played more central today and he did well from that position.”
Bournemouth have just one win from their last six premier league games, but Howe saw positives signs from his side, especially in the first half.
“The frustration would be the second, third and fourth goals obviously,” Howe explained.
“I think we were well in the game at 1-0 down, although the goal shouldn’t have stood, we’re still well in the match and I thought we were set up to have a really good second half because we’d come into the match at the end of that first period and showed more of what were capable of.
“Second goal just seemed to knock the stuffing out of us a little bit and the game becomes more difficult then.”
Bournemouth were without the injured duo of Lewis Cook and Callum Wilson today after both picked up injuries in midweek win over Huddersfield.
Whilst Cook will be sidelined for up to nine months with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Howe expects Wilson to return against Wolves next Saturday.
And he says the England international was a big loss for his side.
“We did miss Callum (Wilson) today,” Howe said.
“He brings us that unique mix of physicality and pace which I think would have troubled Liverpool’s back line maybe more than we did today but that’s no criticism of the lads that played.
“We reshuffled, we felt it might give us more of the ball in dangerous areas but that didn’t really materialise.
“I don’t think it’s going to be long, long term. He’s got a grade one hamstring injury. We’ll try and get him fit for Wolves.”