Bournemouth send Leicester crashing again

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Marc Pugh scored the only goal of the game
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Marc Pugh scored the only goal of the game

Bournemouth moved to the highest league position in their history as Leicester’s miserable run away from home continued with defeat at Vitality Stadium.

The champions paid for a lacklustre first half, where they created clear openings for Jamie Vardy and Robert Huth, but surrendered the ball all too easily.

Eddie Howe’s side saw 70% of the ball before the break and Marc Pugh scored for the hosts on his first league start of the season with a controlled drive from 18 yards out.

Leicester improved but ran into a stubborn home defence and goalkeeper Artur Boruc produced a key save to deny Leonardo Ulloa from six yards in the final minute.

Deal of the day

It means Claudio Ranieri’s side set an unwanted record as their haul of one point away from home is the lowest total by a defending top-flight champion from the first eight away games of a season.

They remain 14th, four points above the bottom three, while the Cherries move to eighth.

‘The model professional’

Boruc’s late save followed a key block from Steve Cook to thwart substitute Shinji Okazaki. The two interventions epitomised Bournemouth’s resilience and Howe described it as a “heroic” defensive display.

His side had conceded nine goals in three games before kick-off, prompting him to call for more solid showings and that is what he got.

Good home possession early on killed any momentum Leicester hoped to carry from Saturday’s thrilling victory over Manchester City.

And Bournemouth’s reward for a fifth home win of 2016-17 is to be five points better off than they were at the same stage last season.

Pugh added to the positives with an excellent all-round display, showing good technique in keeping a bouncing ball on target for the winner after Benik Afobe’s shot was saved.

Howe – who refused to set a target of European qualification after the win – described the match winner as “the model professional” for his patience in waiting for his chance start a league fixture.

Claudio’s unhappy landmark

The statistics get uglier for Leicester, who have no back-to-back wins in the league since April.

The Foxes have conceded 19 goals on the road, one more than in all 18 away games last season and have managed 21 goals in 16 games – 13 fewer than at the same stage last term.

And against Bournemouth they looked one-dimensional going forward. They mustered 12 shots but many of them arrived in a late flurry.

Vardy – a hat-trick hero three days earlier – had 26 touches, the same number as Islam Slimani, who was taken off at the break and just six more than Okazaki, who replaced the Algerian.

Huth’s early volley – deflected wide moments before Pugh’s winner – could have significantly changed proceedings but with just 37% possession on the night and only 68% of their passes finding a team-mate, Leicester were not good enough.

Their display on the south coast was confused. They were slow from the off and limited in their reaction until it was too late.

Ranieri – who has now managed 200 games in the Premier League – will have to find answers.