Bournemouth hit back to earn point and leave Benitez fuming
Bournemouth 2 Newcastle United 2
A brave second-half performance by Bournemouth earned them a point they barely deserved as Eddie Howe's men came back from two goals down to take a point against Newcastle.
The visitors were on top after a Dwight Gayle double gave them a convincing half-time lead. But two goals in the final 10 minutes from Adam Smith and Dan Gosling undid Newcastle's good work to leave Rafael Benítez apoplectic on the touchline.
Bournemouth started the match better, at least for the opening moments. Gosling should have turned in a Junior Stanislas cross from six yards out after just two minutes, but with time and space to place his header, he could only loop it over Martin Dubrovka's crossbar.
Newcastle began with the jitters, but soon settled and, when they did, Bournemouth withered. The visitors' plan on the ball was simple, move it quickly in midfield, especially to Jonjo Shelvey, and hope to spin a pass over the defence. They tried it once and Ayoze Pérez couldn't get his cross away. A second effort ended in a free-kick for Matt Ritchie, which Kenedy turned over the bar. The third time, they scored.
Shelvey started it all and his pass was perfect, curled inside left-back Charlie Daniels from the halfway line. Ritchie latched on to it and, as the ball reached the bye-line, he hit a first-time cross low towards the penalty spot. While Gayle scuffed his first effort, a deflection off Asmir Begovic allowed the former Crystal Palace forward to backheel the ball home at the second attempt.
Newcastle dominated the rest of the half. This may have had something to do with the micro-management of Benítez from the sidelines. The Spaniard was red in the face from snapping instructions at his defence, even when they were in no position to hear them. The Newcastle fans sang their manager's name throughout.
In first-half injury time, the lead was doubled. A Kenedy corner was cleared to the left touchline and looped back in by Paul Dummett. Astonishingly, it passed through a crowd of bodies in the box to Ritchie at the back post. Again the former Bournemouth favourite returned a low cross. Begovic misjudged the ball and let it pass through him. Gayle, in roughly the same place as before, converted first time on this occasion.
Having been involved in both Newcastle goals, Daniels was replaced at half-time with Adam Smith, while Lys Mousset replaced Ryan Fraser on the hour. But while the hosts began to see more of the ball, there remained a suspicion that this suited Newcastle down to the ground. Jamal Lascelles and Florian Lejeune were by this point dominant and the Cherries could neither cross nor play their way through them. Benítez was still barking orders, but by now he had his hands in his pockets.
Newcastle should have scored again through Pérez before Jermain Defoe made a return to the fray for the first time since December with 15 minutes remaining. He immediately forced a corner with a snap shot and moments later, Shelvey was forced to hook a Steve Cook header off the line. Benítez withdrew Gayle and replaced him with midfielder Isaac Hayden.
Shelvey had just missed from six yards on the counter when, with 10 minutes remaining, Bournemouth clawed back some hope. Josh King advanced down the left and cut the ball back for Lewis Cook, whose sweet backheel found Smith. With time to compose himself, the substitute smashed the ball in off the underside of the bar.
The voices of the home fans got louder and Bournemouth were full of confidence, throwing bodies forward. With two minutes remaining, Simon Francis found a cross that rolled across the box to the far post. Nathan Aké then calmly laid it into the path of Gosling and the midfielder rammed the ball home. The stadium screamed in relief and Benítez retreated to his dugout.
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