Marco Silva’s Hornets produced a confident, assured performance on the south-coast this afternoon, as two second half goals ensured a continued fine start to the season.
Richarlison, a menace throughout, and substitute Etienne Capoue scored in the final quarter of an hour to confirm the Golden Boys' first Premier League win over Eddie Howe's old Championship rivals.
There were four changes to the side from Liverpool, as Kiko Femenía, Sebastian Prödl and Richarlison came in for Daryl Janmaat, Younès Kaboul and Roberto Pereyra. Front-man Andre Gray also came into the side, making his first start for the club, replacing Stefano Okaka.
Will Hughes was also named in the matchday squad for the first time, and Troy Deeney returned to the bench following his recovery from minor surgery.
The first chance of the game fell to the hosts with six minutes on the clock. Gomes was forced into a fantastic reaction stop to deny Ryan Fraser, before Benik Afobe blasted over from close range on the rebound under pressure from Miguel Britos.
Silva’s side created an excellent opening a short while after as Nordin Amrabat whipped a ball to the far-post, but Nathaniel Chalobah was unable to steer his downward header on target.
Just past the half-hour mark Gomes made another fine save to deny Afobe, who had done well to create a fraction of space goal-side of the covering Britos.
The visitors looked comfortable and should have been one nil up right on the stroke of half-time, as Richarlison’s drag-back was fired over by Gray.
Steve Cook looked to have put The Cherries in front just after the break but his header from an in-swinging corner was clawed out of the air by the acrobatic Gomes.
Soon after and Chalobah found himself clean through on goal following an interception in midfield. However, his final attempt at goal lacked conviction and Asmir Begovic saved comfortably. He might have squared to Gray, had the striker not been cynically taken down by Cook.
Two further chances followed as Chalobah curled over and Gray saw a drilled ball across goal punched away by Begovic.
But with their next real attempt at goal the Hornets were deservedly ahead. Two new-boys in the form of Gray and Richarlison combined to deadly effect.
Gray was played in down the right-flank before crossing the ball into Richarlison who poked home at the second attempt for his first goal in yellow.
Minutes later and the Brazilian was involved again, this time however he just headed wide from a Holebas cross from the left.
Silva made his first change of the match with just over ten minutes remaining as Etienne Capoue came on in place of cramp-stricken goal-scorer Richarlison.
Another change followed minutes later as Christian Kabasele replaced Nordin Amrabat as the Hornets looked to maintain their lead.
But that lead was extended in spectacular style as the game neared its end. Gray saw a shot saved from the tightest of angles before the ball fell to Capoue edge of the box. The Frenchman took it on his chest before riffling a half-volley across goal into the bottom corner.
The final change for the Hornets saw Ben Watson enter the field for the impressive Chalobah who was roared off by the ecstatic travelling support.
Six minutes of injury time were negotiated with ease as the Hornets ensured they defeated the Cherries and maintained their fine start to the season as a result.
HORNETS | Gomes (GK) (c); Femenía, Prödl, Britos, Holebas; Chalobah (Watson, 90), Doucouré; Amrabat (Kabasele, 82), Cleverley, Richarlison (Capoue, 79); Gray.
Subs not used | Pantilimon (GK), Hughes, Okaka, Deeney.
Yellow Cards | Britos (27), Gray (58), Chalobah (63)
Goals | Richarlison (73), Capoue (86)
CHERRIES | Begovic (GK); A Smith, S Cook, Ake, Daniels; Ibe (Pugh, 60), Surman, Arter, Fraser (Mousset, 77); King, Afobe (Defoe, 60).
Subs not used | Boruc (GK), B Smith, Mings, Gosling.
Yellow Cards | Cook (59)
Referee | Roger East