CHERRIES bounced back from their weekend defeat to Burnley in the best possible style by beating Leicester City 1-0 to climb to eighth spot in the Premier League table.

Marc Pugh, on his first Premier League start this term, rifled Cherries ahead on 34 minutes and Eddie Howe’s side never relinquished their lead against a largely subdued Foxes side.

Despite Cherries starting the game at a fair lick, it was the visitors who carried the greater early goal threat.

Artur Boruc had already scurried from his line to thwart Jamie Vardy, when Riyad Mahrez’s threaded pass spilt Steve Cook and Nathan Ake and sent the England striker in on goal once more.

Vardy got the better of Boruc this time – but he didn’t have the beating of the retreating Cook, who deflected the forward’s effort high of the target.

Marc Albrighton was the architect of Leicester’s next raid, robbing Simon Francis and feeding Vardy down the left. The unmarked Islam Slimani, however, could do no better than totally miss his kick when Vardy’s cross found the £29m Algerian in the box.

If all this sounds as if Cherries were on the back foot, they weren’t.

A side showing three changes to that beaten at Burnley was enjoying the lion’s share of possession, pinning the Premier League champions back in their own half and bringing an agitated Claudio Ranieri to the touchline to implore his side get to grips with their hosts’ zippy, mobile football.

Foxes’ keeper Ron-Robert Zieler was equal to Cherries’ first strike on target, a low Jack Wilshere effort, but the German No 1 promptly came close to undoing his good work.

Zieler directed his drop-kick straight into Benik Afobe’s back, and then compounded his error by drilling the ball into the advertising hoardings as the pair contested possession by the touchline.

Afobe took a quick throw to Pugh but, with Zieler stranded, the winger couldn’t keep his hurried effort on target.

But Cherries were soon unzipping Leicester to telling effect.

Francis’s pass caught Christian Fuchs dozing and released Adam Smith. The wideman squared for Afobe, who pulled the trigger first time.

Zieler saved with his legs but only succeeded in turning the ball to Pugh, the Cherries’ man then displaying sumptuous technique to get over the rising ball and drill it into the roof of the net.

Zieler’s attempt at palming the ball clear, it should be noted, was limp, at best.

Leicester had abandoned their counter-attacking ploy – whether by accident or design, it wasn’t readily apparent – in favour of a more rudimentary approach, their two trebuchets, Fuchs and Luis Hernandez, launching a series of throws into the box, all dealt with one way or another by Cherries’ rearguard.

Charlie Daniels’ launched a solo break shortly after the interval, the left back intercepting Hernandez’s pass and breezing effortlessly way from Mahrez, before seeing his shot blocked by Wes Morgan.

Hernandez and Mahrez did then link to more auspicious effect for their side, the latter releasing the former to hit a cross that nicked off Ake on its way to bouncing off the rooted Francis’s chest and behind.

Francis’s next act saw him gallop forward for the umpteenth time and locate Smith with the final pass of a crisp move. Smith took aim, but sent a dipping shot past the far post.

Andy King headed Vardy’s inswung left-wing cross wide, as Leicester finally showed signs of stirring to life around the hour mark, with Vardy then believing he should have had a penalty after tumbling over as he tried to escape Ake.

Vardy was progressively becoming the Foxes’ go-to man. Another Hernandez missile found the forward improvising with a bicycle kick steered into Boruc’s gloves.

Cherries’ keeper then pouched a speculative Mahrez strike. For all his attacking craft, however, plenty of Mahrez’s defensive work is risible.

The Algerian was a bystander as Daniels strode forward again to let fly with a piledriver that flattened Morgan.

It was Mahrez’s sweet right-wing corner, though, that found Huth leaping above Francis and heading marginally wide with 16 minutes to play.

Soon after, Wilshere was nearly made to pay for waiting for a referee’s whistle after Shinji Okazaki used a hand to rob the midfielder on halfway, before advancing to lash a shot wide of Boruc’s left upright.

Ranieri executed his last throw of the dice by introducing striker Leonardo Ulloa in place of defender Huth. And the Leicester boss immediately saw Mahrez’s goalbound effort scrambled behind by Francis, dipping in front of Boruc to intervene.

With the visitors committing more bodies forward, Smith found Pugh in space but curling wide to the right of goal.

And so the Foxes came again. Mahrez cleverly stepped over Hernandez’s pass to free Okazaki. When the Japanese drilled goalwards, however, his strike was met by Cook, dramatically launching himself in the way of the ball.

But it still needed the brilliance of Boruc and Francis to preserve Cherries’ lead.

Vardy turned the ball back into the middle after Ahmed Musa’s left-wing cross had skimmed Ake’s brow.

Ulloa was on hand to turn goalwards and produce a wonderful reaction stop from Boruc. And when the Uruguayan had another go on the rebound he was foiled by Francis’s perfectly timed tackle.

It was a suitably heart-stopping way to end a momentous night.


Cherries (4-4-1-1): Boruc; Francis, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Smith, Wilshere, Arter, Pugh; King (Gosling, 79); Afobe (Wilson, 68, Mings, 90).

Unused subs: Gradel, B Smith, Ibe, Federici (g/k).

Leicester City (4-4-2): Zieler; Hernandez, Morgan, Huth (Ulloa, 82), Fuchs; Mahrez, King, Amartey, Albrighton (Musa, 74); Slimani (Okazaki, h-t), Vardy.

Unused subs: Chilwell, Gray, Mendy, Hamer (g/k).

Bookings: King, Morgan, Hernandez.

Referee: Paul Tierney (Wigan).