Brighton were denied a second home win in a row, held 2-2 by Bournemouth in the first Premier League game of 2018. Albion went ahead twice only to be pegged back by the visitors, and wasted a number of chances to turn one point into three.
Chris Hughton's side, aided by a man-of-the-match performance from summer signing Jose Izquierdo, outfought the visiting Cherries and fully deserved all three points, rarely finding themselves under any kind of sustained pressure. Despite this, Eddie Howe's side stayed in the game under an onslaught of Brighton attacks, and earned an untidy equaliser late on to take a point back to the south coast.
Chris Hughton's men came close to doubling their advantage on a number of occasions, with Izquierdo and Glenn Murray both having efforts well saved by Asmir Begovic.
Both sides had chances to go in front before half time, with the lively Izquierdo put through on goal only for Begovic to deny him from point blank range. Down the other end of the pitch, Marc Pugh found himself unmarked on the edge of the box, but his low drive was too close to Mat Ryan and the Australian made a simple save. That was the final action of a frenetic first half.
Just two minutes after half-time, the Seagulls cut open the Bournemouth defence to retake the lead, with an inch-perfect ball from Pascal Gross setting the Colombian free, who unselfishly squared the ball for an unmarked Murray to tap in from six yards.
Brighton had several chances for a 3-1 lead, with Izquierdo running the length of the pitch from a Bournemouth corner to be through on goal, only to shoot straight at Asmir Begovic.
Sensing the game slipping away from him, Eddie Howe threw on Lys Mousset and Ryan Gosling in an effort to nick an equaliser, but to no avail. Just 10 minutes from time, Bournemouth finally got a scruffy second to level, with a scramble more akin to a rugby scrum in the Brighton box.
Coming from a corner, Brighton failed to clear their lines, with the ball bouncing everywhere, and Callum Wilson stuck out a foot to wrongfoot Mat Ryan and poke the ball into the bottom corner.
What's the opposite to a worldie? Bournemouth just scored one.— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) January 1, 2018
It was perhaps undeserved, with the Cherries showing little attacking threat in the second half and the goal having more than an element of luck about it.
Both sides had chances to win it in the final ten minutes, but stood firm to share the spoils. The hosts will feel hard done by, having had more than enough chances to win the game, but wasteful finishing allowing the visitors in to steal a draw.
The point kept Brighton in 12th, moving within four points of the top half. Bournemouth remain just below them in 13th, still very much in danger lying just two points clear of the bottom three, with matches against Arsenal and Chelsea in the coming weeks.
Headline team news ahead of our @premierleague game against @OfficialBHAFC.— AFC Bournemouth (@afcbournemouth) January 1, 2018
Four changes to starting XI
Pugh, Arter, Afobe, Daniels in
Fraser misses out through injury#BHABOU | #afcb pic.twitter.com/MzJQ9I9MAO