Bournemouth fightback to earn draw against Everton
Bournemouth twice recovered from seemingly-lost causes to earn a dramatic 3-3 draw with Everton and rescue a vital point in their bid for Premier League survival.
Following a one-sided first half in which goals from Romelu Lukaku and Ramiro Funes Mori gave the visitors a deserved, and what appeared comfortable, lead, an outstanding finish from substitute Adam Smith inspired a comeback that was eventually completed deep into stoppage time with the second of Junior Stanislas' equalising goals after Ross Barkley had again put Everton ahead.
Bournemouth climb up to 18th but remain in the relegation zone with the point gained, though more crucially they recovered the sense of momentum that began with their recent improved performances in the 1-0 defeat by Newcastle and the 2-2 draw at Swansea. Everton manager Roberto Martinez will no doubt reflect on a wasted opportunity, when his side should have secured a convincing victory and strengthened their challenge for the top four.
It had earlier appeared that Bournemouth's finest chance of victory perhaps came and went as early as the third minute. Stanislas created space on the left before finding Dan Gosling in the penalty area, but despite being well-positioned to give his side the lead, the midfielder connected poorly with Stanislas' ball and sent his shot wide of the target.
Bournemouth's Eddie Howe had spoken in the week of his admiration for Everton's Roberto Martinez and of his determination to persevere with his team's attractive, passing philosophy.
There is much to be said for a manager who remains confident in his beliefs, but throughout the first half their gameplan appeared to represent a significant risk, and so it swiftly proved.
From a relatively aimless cross and under minimal pressure, Simon Francis inexplicably headed the ball to Arouna Kone instead to goalkeeper Adam Federici, and was fortunate that the Australian saved Kone's near-post shot instead of watching Everton take the lead.
He was equally fortunate that from the resultant corner Federici produced an equally impressive save from a powerful Lukaku header, but with Bournemouth's defence far from responding, the visitors soon took the lead.
After another corner and from Barkley's 25th-minute cross, Funes Mori headed his first goal for the club since his £9.5million summer arrival into the top left corner beyond Federici
Further pressure followed, and within 11 minutes Everton went 2-0 ahead. With possession on the right wing, Gerard Deulofeu played a through-ball to Lukaku who, with the classiest of touches, teed himself up to powerfully finish inside Federici's near, right post.
Bournemouth improved after half-time against their relaxed opponents, but despite further efforts on goal they failed to truly threaten until Smith scored, seemingly from nowhere.
Producing an outstanding 80th-minute finish from the edge of the area and the outside of his boot that went in off the post, the substitute raised hopes of a comeback that Stanislas, in the 87th minute, appeared to have completed.
The impressive Joshua King found Stanislas free in the penalty area, and from in front of goal the forward shot into the top right corner to make it 2-2.
With Bournemouth close to securing the point their efforts deserved, more poor defending again gifted Everton the lead when possession was conceded and, from close range, Seamus Coleman found Barkley to finish from directly in front of goal.
In the eighth minute of stoppage time, and with defeat appearing inevitable, Charlie Daniels sent a hopeful cross into the box and, incredibly, Stanislas reached it to head in and seal a 3-3 draw. While Bournemouth's lack of quality may eventually prove their downfall, it appears their spirit will never be found wanting.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Wtf was that?? Need to learn to earn the right to win! Throwing away a lead twice is embarrassing!" - Ex-Everton and England man Michael Ball was not happy.
Adam Federici: 7 (Out of 10)
Simon Francis: 5
Steve Cook: 3
Sylvain Distin: 5
Charlie Daniels: 7
Junior Stanislas: 8
Dan Gosling: 5
Andrew Surman: 6
Harry Arter: 5
Matt Ritchie: 5
Joshua King: 7
Adam Smith: 6
Ryan Allsop: 6
Glenn Murray: 7
Tim Howard: 6
Seamus Coleman: 7
John Stones: 6
Ramiros Funes Mori: 7
Brendan Galloway: 6
James McCarthy: 7
Gareth Barry: 8
Ross Barkley: 7
Gerard Deulofeu: 7
Arouna Kone: 6
Romelu Lukaku: 7
Tom Cleverley: 6
Aaron Lennon: 5
Darron Gibson: 5
Junior Stanislas: Remained determined and energetic while Bournemouth struggled, and then twice equalised to secure a vital point.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Adam Smith's goal: Bournemouth were on the verge of defeat, and offering minimal threat, when the substitute scored with an outstanding finish. It proved the catalyst to securing a vital point.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Eddie Howe deserves significant credit for whatever was said at half-time. His team appeared bereft of belief in the first half and vastly improved for the second. For Roberto Martinez, the near opposite applied. His team were too relaxed in the second half; they should have won when they had led and enjoyed such control.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Everton's inability to seal victory from such a commanding position was disappointing for a team with ambitions - which at times appear realistic - of finishing in the Premier League's top four. Their intensity inexplicably dropped, showing great naivety. Even if they have the talent, they lack the expertise to reach the Champions League.
WHO'S UP NEXT
WHO'S UP NEXT
Chelsea v Bournemouth (Barclays Premier League, Saturday December 5)
Middlesbrough v Everton (Capital One Cup, Tuesday December 1)