A FIRST-HALF header from defender Ahmed Hegazi condemned Cherries to a 1-0 defeat in their opening game of the Premier League season at West Bromwich Albion.

Hegazi, signed by Albion on loan in the summer from Egyptian side Al Ahly, popped up on 31 minutes to score the only goal of the game and leave Eddie Howe’s side returning to the south coast empty handed.

On what turned out to be a frustrating afternoon for the Dorset club at the Hawthorns, defender Steve Cook was passed fit to start but striker Jermain Defoe could only take a place on Cherries’ bench.

That meant Benik Afobe, who enjoyed a fruitful run in pre-season with four goals in his previous three games, earned a place in Howe’s starting XI.

Summer signings Asmir Begovic and Nathan Ake were also included.

New Albion frontman Jay Rodriguez, signed in the summer from Southampton, was named in the hosts’ line-up and he forced the first save of the contest on three minutes.

Shifting the ball on to his right foot, he let fly with a strike that was comfortably saved by Begovic.

Then, from the opposite flank four minutes later, Tony Pulis’s side had another opportunity to open the scoring. Rodriguez cut back for Matt Phillips, who blazed over the bar.

A slip from Ake then let Rodriguez in again. His effort was parried away at the near post as the home side continued to put the pressure on.

And on 31 minutes, the opener came for the Baggies through a set-piece.

A free-kick from the right, swung in by Chris Brunt was met by defender Hegazi, who rose highest to head home on his league debut.

Cherries then looked to rally. After Ryan Fraser was brought down in a dangerous area, the winger whipped in a devilish free-kick which flicked off home defender Craig Dawson, just inches wide of the near post.

The home side continued to threaten from set-plays of their own however, and they almost made it 2-0 five minutes before the break.

A corner played to the back post was fired back across goal by Claudio Yacob, with the sliding Brunt unable to get the final touch.

At the other end, Joshua King then had an opportunity to get Cherries back on level terms. He raced down the right and saw his effort smothered by the onrushing Ben Foster.

Jordon Ibe was then introduced in place of Marc Pugh after the break for Cherries as they looked to freshen things up.

But it was Albion who threatened first, again from a set piece. Yacob headed into the side netting from a corner whipped in at the near post.

Defoe was brought on in place of Afobe just past the hour mark as Cherries pushed forward but, although they saw a lot of the ball, the visitors were failing to create any clear opportunities.

Skipper Simon Francis was then forced off with a hamstring injury and replaced by Adam Smith with 10 minutes to go.

Cherries finally forced a save from Foster in the second period when Fraser’s free-kick was headed at goal by Ake but the effort was tame.

Baggies: Foster; Nyom, Dawson, Hegazi, Brunt; Yacob; Phillips (Robson-Kanu, 72), Field (Harper, 70), Livermore, McClean; Rodriguez (Rondon, 88).

Unused subs: Myhill, Chadli, Leko, Wilson

Cherries: Begovic; Francis (A Smith 80), Cook, Ake, Daniels; Pugh (Ibe, h-t), Arter, Surman, Fraser; King; Afobe (Defoe, 63).

Unused Subs: Boruc (g/k), Gosling, Mings, Mousset.

Bookings: Baggies – Yacob, Rodriguez, Robson-Kanu

Cherries – Arter

Referee: Bobby Madley

Attendance: 25,011 (including 2,489 away supporters)