- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

LONDON (AP) - Not long ago Chelsea losing to Bournemouth in the Premier League would have been inconceivable. Actually impossible.

For much of the 21st century Chelsea has been collecting every major trophy in European football, while Bournemouth has fought to stay in business or avoid dropping out of England’s professionals leagues.

No wonder then that Bournemouth’s 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday was acclaimed by manager Eddie Howe as “the best individual result in the club’s history.” Not since 2001 had Chelsea lost to a Premier League newcomer.

Yet on another level it was not so unexpected for the 125-year-old team from the south coast to pull off this upset. It’s been that kind of a season when the pressure has mounted on Jose Mourinho as Chelsea has gone from winning the Premier League by eight points to losing on Saturday for an eighth time in the 15-game-old title defense.

Once Chelsea and Bournemouth were three divisions apart. Now just two points split them in the topflight as they both hover above the relegation zone. Chelsea, four-time Premier League winners in the last decade, is approaching the midway point of the season an alarming 17 points behind surprise leader Leicester, which was itself fighting relegation for much of last season.

This wasn’t a subdued Chelsea performance although waves of attacks were thwarted as goalkeeper Artur Boruc blocked shots from Pedro Rodriguez, Oscar, Branislav Ivanovic and Eden Hazard. But returning striker Diego Costa, a second-half substitute, never caused Boruc any problems.

And against the run of play, Bournemouth’s goal came in the 82nd minute when Chelsea failed to clear a corner and Glenn Murray sent a diving header in the net less than two minutes after coming on as a substitute.

“We tried to impose ourselves on Chelsea,” Howe said. “I thought we were very good with the ball. We broke well and counter-attacked well a couple of times and gave them problems and we defended well.”

The landmark result was achieved despite nine first-team players featuring on Bournemouth’s injury list.

“It gives the players some reward for how hard they’ve worked,” said Howe, a former Bournemouth player who went around town with buckets collecting cash to keep the club afloat during the late 1990s.

“We’ve been hit with a lot of things, the injuries and some dominant performances that haven’t won games and it’s been tough and the players have kept going.”

Mourinho was left bemoaning the referee’s decision not to award a penalty before Bournemouth’s goal when Simon Francis handled, although he did acknowledge some of Chelsea’s shortcomings.

“In the first half we were a bit passive and didn’t press enough,” Mourinho said. “We were not intense enough with the ball, without the ball to create problems to our opponents. In the second half we did that. We created problems … I’m really disappointed with this result. Not so disappointed with the performance because especially in the second half the performance was good.”

When Mourinho first took charge of Chelsea in 2004, Bournemouth was languishing in the third tier of English soccer. When the self-styled “Special One” was winning the Italian and Champions League titles with Inter Milan was 2008 to 2010, Bournemouth was scrapping away at the bottom of the fourth tier.

“We’ve got the Special One,” Bournemouth’s visiting fans chanted Saturday about the 38-year-old Howe, who is regarded as one of the brightest emerging managers in English football.

Howe steered Bournemouth into the topflight for the first time by winning the League Championship in May.

While Chelsea has enjoyed hundreds of millions of dollars of investment from billionaire Roman Abramovich in the last 12 years, Bournemouth has only benefited from more modest Russian investment from Maxim Demin since 2011.

Bournemouth came close to dropping out of the four professional leagues in 2009 before embarking on a remarkable rise. Chicago-based PEAK6 Investments last month bought a quarter of the team, which plays in a stadium with a capacity of less than 12,000.

“The boys are gaining belief every week and I think it showed,” Murray said after Bournemouth climbed a point outside the relegation zone.

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Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

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