This was not the most resounding victory for Bournemouth but given how they flitted in and out of a topsy-turvy game there could be no argument that Arnaut Danjuma’s emphatic winner six minutes from time was deserving of winning an occasionally hairy contest.
It is fair to assume Danjuma, a £14m signing from Club Brugge last year, did not dream of his first Bournemouth goal being in the Championship, let alone behind closed doors, but his star turn proved the difference in victory over a dogged Blackburn, who equalised twice, through Bradley Johnson and Adam Armstrong.
For Bournemouth this was a first taste of competitive action without Eddie Howe in the dugout for almost eight years and after several high-profile departures that have helped recoup the club the best part of £80m this summer there were unsurprisingly only five survivors from the team that started on the final day of last season in the lineup. The new manager, Jason Tindall, handed Steve Cook the captain’s armband and Dominic Solanke the responsibility of leading the line following the exit of Callum Wilson, while Joshua King is set to exit before the transfer window closes next month.
It was always going to be a summer of change at Bournemouth following relegation but the close season has been less hectic at Blackburn, one of a clutch of teams determined to break into the play-offs after drifting to a mid-table finish last season. Their headline arrival, the former Gent goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski, made his debut but had no chance with Jack Stacey’s thunderous opener. Junior Stanislas rolled the ball into the path of the roaming Bournemouth full-back who, unchallenged, took aim and hammered a swerving strike in off a post and beyond Kaminski, who later saved superbly to prevent Solanke from finding some breathing space.
On the touchline stood Tony Mowbray, who has won promotion out of this division, and Tindall, who for 12 years shared an office with Howe at Bournemouth and Burnley. Tindall traded a tracksuit for a polo shirt and was flanked by assistant manager Stephen Purches and first-team coach Graeme Jones, the former Luton manager who also was a longstanding assistant to Roberto Martínez. But some things never change: Jefferson Lerma, who amassed a dozen yellow cards in the past two seasons, picked up a booking with the new season barely 50 minutes old.
Stacey’s strike gave Tindall cause for optimism but Bournemouth struggled to penetrate. When Blackburn strayed forward approaching the interval, Johnson reaped the rewards from a speculative strike, though it was a goal Mark Travers will not want to see in a hurry, with the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper filing an early contender for an end-of-season blooper showreel. Travers, given his first league start since January following the departure of Aaron Ramsdale, allowed the ball to squirm through his hands and squeeze into the corner from more than 30 yards.
Bournemouth were unconvincing but did not have to work too hard to retake the lead. Stacey picked out Solanke in the box and the striker was given the freedom of Bournemouth, an accolade awarded to Howe after leading the club into the Premier League, before laying the ball on for Lerma, who tucked the ball into the corner beyond Kaminski.
Less than 24 hours earlier Watford, another relegated team, had demonstrated the steel required for victory but Bournemouth’s resistance was feeble by comparison, with Armstrong equalising after swivelling away from Cook. But Danjuma drove forward, haring down the left flank and finished exquisitely.