Match ends, Bournemouth 2, Aston Villa 1.
Bournemouth lifted themselves out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Aston Villa at the Vitality Stadium.
Two first-half goals in six minutes from Philip Billing and Nathan Ake proved enough to secure all three points - even though the Cherries found themselves down to 10 men in the early stages of the second half, midfielder Jefferson Lerma shown a second yellow card for a foul on Jack Grealish.
With a man advantage, Villa found a way back into the game courtesy of £8.5m signing Mbwana Samatta, who became the first Tanzanian to score in the Premier League with a debut goal on 70 minutes.
But Eddie Howe's side managed to withstand Villa's pressure and can celebrate back-to-back league wins for the first time since September.
Bournemouth are now up to 16th place in the table - the position Villa were in before kick-off - and out of the relegation zone on 26 points.
Bournemouth's bright start
Three weeks ago, on a run of six winless league games, it did not look like Bournemouth had the strength for a relegation fight.
Victory over Brighton lifted the gloom and against Villa there was an intensity from the first whistle that suggests a returning appetite for the struggle.
Full-back Adam Smith hit the side-netting before being flagged offside while a long-range effort from Billing tested Villa keeper Pepe Reina.
Denmark midfielder Billing did find the back of the net after a wayward free-kick was kept in play by skipper Simon Francis, his cross being met by Dan Gosling, who nodded it down for Billing to sweep in a left-footed finish from eight yards out.
The Cherries doubled their lead deservedly six minutes later. Ryan Fraser's low drive from a Harry Wilson set-piece was spilled by former Liverpool keeper Reina in the direction of Ake, who stretched a leg out to send a low finish into the bottom corner.
The one sour note for Howe and the home crowd was the sending off of Lerma on 51 minutes. The Colombia midfielder received both yellow cards - his 22nd and 23rd in 52 games for the club - for tussles with Villa's star man Grealish and will miss the Cherries' next game away to Sheffield United.
It clearly was not the immediate concern though as Howe and his team embraced in a huddle on the final whistle, the relief of a much-needed boost to their top-flight survival prospects felt around the whole ground.
One eye on Wembley for Villa?
Aston Villa have had a week to remember with their Carabao Cup semi-final success over high-flying Midlands rivals Leicester in midweek following a late 2-1 win over Watford in the league last weekend.
Manager Dean Smith said he would be "a very proud man" to lead his boyhood club out at Wembley against holders Manchester City - but could the prospect of a first trophy since their League Cup win in 1996 be a distraction in the relegation battle the club has found itself in?
Villa were 16th in the table before heading to the south coast and on a high after those twin successes but only a very late Brighton equaliser at West Ham prevented them finishing the day back in the drop zone.
Loan signing Reina was the busier of the goalkeepers and the 37-year-old's steady hands kept Bournemouth from scoring sooner then they did.
Villa only registered one shot on target in the first half when Grealish, a constant threat and creative spark, saw his low drive from the angle brilliantly diverted away from goal by Adam Ramsdale's sharp reflexes.
Smith's attacking options have been limited by a knee injury to record signing Wesley, but the Villa boss can at least take solace in the fact his January transfer window recruitment has bear immediate fruit.
Samatta, who scored 43 league goals in 98 appearances for Genk in Belgium's top flight before switching to Villa Park, got Villa's first headed goal in the league this season, the Tanzania international quick to react ahead of Bournemouth keeper Ramsdale.
Man of the Match - Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
Still no away clean sheet for Villa - match stats
- Bournemouth have won their last two Premier League games, as many victories as they managed in their previous 17 in the competition (D4 L11).
- Villa remain the only side in the Premier League this season yet to register an away clean sheet in the competition.
- Villa have seen their opponents pick up six red cards in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
- Courtesy of Mbwana Samatta, Aston Villa scored their first headed goal in the Premier League since Ciaran Clark netted against Watford in April 2016.
- Samatta became the first Tanzanian to feature in the Premier League, with Tanzania the 117th different nation to be represented in the competition.
- Phillip Billing netted his first Premier League goal for Bournemouth (23 games) and his first for any side in the competition in 33 appearances, since scoring for Huddersfield v Southampton in December 2018.
- Samatta is the first player to score on his league debut for Aston Villa since Rudy Gestede netted in August 2015, also against Bournemouth.
- Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has been fouled 111 times in the Premier League this season, the only player to hit triple-figures in the competition in 2019-20.
'The sending off changed the game' - what they said
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe: "The red card changed everything, we felt a little bit bit hard done by on that decision - Jeff [Jefferson Lerma] was incredibly unlucky as there were other challenges in the game that didn't get punished with a yellow card which were worse than that.
"At a time when we were in a good place in the game, looking to go 3-0 up, suddenly the game swings on that moment and I didn't think it was justified. With that feeling, with the way the game had gone and the run of form we'd been on, it was hugely important we got over the line and won that game. We don't know whether it will define our season, but it feels like a big moment now."
On Ryan Fraser (the winger apologised to team-mates this week for letting his performances be affected by links with Arsenal last summer): "I asked pre-game that they [the supporters] support him and back him, as he's an incredible talent, and he's a great lad.
"He wants to play well for the team and the club - they were brilliant with him today and he was very good in return, in terms of his defensive performance - especially with 10 men he was excellent and he showed how important he is for us. "
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith speaking to Match of the Day: "We didn't start particularly well, they picked up too many second balls and ended up with territorial advantage in the first half.
"I wasn't happy with the first half and how we played but the second half, after they had a man set off, was better, although we did not do enough with possession.
"They have had a man sent off and after that we have dominated possession but have not done enough to create clear-cut chances to get ourselves back and deserved to lose in the end."
On Lerma's sending-off: "The red card was soft, there were a few decisions out there that left a lot of people scratching their heads."
On their reaction after winning through to the Carabao Cup final: "They weren't thinking about the cup semi-final today, the focus was on Bournemouth. It is a tough place to come - a small stadium, fans can be on top of you and we didn't work as hard as we should."
The start of the inaugural winter break in the Premier League means that while Bournemouth travel to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United on Sunday 9 February (14:00 GMT), Aston Villa do not play until the following week at home to Tottenham on Sunday 16 February (14:00 GMT).
- 15A Smith
- 8LermaBooked at 51mins
- 13WilsonBooked at 65mins
- 3S Cook
- 16L Cook
- 15KonsaSubstituted forEngelsat 45'minutes
- 40MingsBooked at 36mins
- 30HauseBooked at 90mins
- 11NakambaSubstituted forTrézéguetat 80'minutes
- 6Douglas LuizBooked at 43mins
- 21El GhaziSubstituted forDavisat 58'minutes
- 27El Mohamady
- Anthony Taylor
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Bournemouth 2, Aston Villa 1.
Attempt missed. Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Callum Wilson following a fast break.
Kortney Hause (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Kortney Hause (Aston Villa).
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Diego Rico.
Hand ball by Frederic Guilbert (Aston Villa).
Foul by Frederic Guilbert (Aston Villa).
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Douglas Luiz.
Offside, Aston Villa. Kortney Hause tries a through ball, but Mbwana Samatta is caught offside.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Simon Francis.
Attempt blocked. Harry Wilson (Bournemouth) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Philip Billing with a headed pass.
Attempt blocked. Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Fraser with a cross.
Foul by Kortney Hause (Aston Villa).
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Trézéguet replaces Marvelous Nakamba.
Attempt missed. Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Matt Targett with a cross following a set piece situation.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.