Soccer

Unai Emery praises ‘strong’ Ollie Watkins after late equaliser at Bournemouth

Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring a last-minute equaliser (Steven Paston/PA)
Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring a last-minute equaliser (Steven Paston/PA) Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring a last-minute equaliser (Steven Paston/PA)

Unai Emery saluted Ollie Watkins after he scored a superb 90th-minute equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth.

Watkins was facing backwards when he nodded in substitute Moussa Diaby’s cross as Villa twice came from behind to rescue a share of the spoils.

Villa boss Emery said: “He’s strong. When he’s feeling good physically he can play matches in a row like we are playing.

“It’s a very good point. I am very happy with the performance.

“We have to build a team and I am trying to give everyone chances.

“They have to feel important and playing with personality and get stronger, not only the first 11 but the squad.”

Bournemouth took the lead in the 10th minute through a neat finish from Antoine Semenyo after Diego Carlos was too casual playing out from the back and passed the ball straight to Ryan Christie.

Villa drew level in the 20th minute as Leon Bailey picked up possession on the right wing before cutting in on his left foot and curling into the far corner.

Solanke restored Bournemouth’s advantage seven minutes into the second half as he fired Bournemouth back in front with his seventh goal of the season after turning away from Pau Torres and rifling home.

Emi Martinez then denied Solanke from point blank range before Villa substitute Jhon Duran hit the post with a deflected shot.

But just as Bournemouth looked to be holding out for the win, up stepped the in-form Watkins to bag his 13th goal of the season.

Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola saluted top-scorer Solanke, but was frustrated his side could not hold out for a third straight Premier League win.

Iraola said: “It is a hard one to take because before for the game you would take a point against Villa, but considering how the team played and the chances we had we cannot be happy.

“In the end we could not score the third goal even though we had clear chances and we also have to congratulate their goalkeeper who made two or three spectacular saves.

“After the start of the season we needed to improve and we’ve been doing that.

“We are understanding each other better and the players are physically in a good place. It is obvious we are playing better than we were.

“They are winning duels against tough opposition, but we have to continue because this is a good level from us and it’s only enough for one point.

“At this moment in time it is a matter of improving collectively. Today Dom scored one very good goal with good movement from a number nine and he had two very close chances, but their goalkeeper was amazing.

“He read the situations very well and he has had three or four very clear chances, which is a good sign for the team for him personally. I hope he continues at this level.”