AFC Bournemouth 2 Newcastle United 2
- Mike Dean
Matt Ritchie struck at the death against his old club to earn Newcastle United a point against AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Having hit back to defeat Everton in stunning fashion a week ago, the Magpies looked set to end up on the wrong end of a fine comeback after Joshua King cancelled out Salomón Rondón’s free kick from the spot, before hitting what appeared destined to be the winner amidst growing Bournemouth pressure.
However, with just seconds left on the clock, Ritchie’s thumping half-volley flew past the Cherries’ Artur Boruc to rescue a share of the spoils for Newcastle in what was, overall, an entertaining clash.
Boruc was the first of the two ‘keepers to be called into action as Isaac Hayden took aim inside the opening couple of minutes. The midfielder gathered the ball 20 yards out and looked to find the far corner with a right-footed strike, but the Polish stopper was able to collect quite comfortably.
United soon had to withstand a scare, as Bournemouth broke quickly on the counter attack. King threaded the ball through for Ryan Fraser down the left channel and, with the angle narrowing, the Scot struck the base of the far post with a low shot.
Ayoze Pérez – whose dramatic late brace capped off the Magpies’ remarkable win against the Toffees – then tested Boruc with a right-footed drive from just outside the penalty area, which the ‘keeper did well to smother.
For the most part, however, the first half was a relatively low-key affair, with goalmouth action at a premium. But, with just seconds remaining before the break, Miguel Almirón drew a foul from Jordon Ibe after carrying the ball some 70 yards. Cue Rondón, who curled the resultant free kick home with Boruc never looking likely to get across his line.
Unusually, though, the Magpies looked ragged as the second half got underway, and they were pegged back just two minutes in. Federico Fernández was spotted bringing Nathan Aké to the ground with his arm, and King coolly sent Martin Dúbravka the wrong way from 12 yards.
Bournemouth then came within a whisker of completing a quick-fire turnaround, with Chris Mepham peeling away from Mohamed Diamé at the back post before nodding Fraser’s searching corner narrowly wide of the upright.
Newcastle managed to steady the ship, and almost restored their lead with their first meaningful attack since the interval. Rondón held the ball up eight yards out before turning and getting a shot away, which took a touch off Aké and squirmed just beyond the reach of Ritchie, who had looked set to profit from the Dutchman’s deflection.
With 20 minutes to go, though, only a fantastic Paul Dummett clearance kept United level, the Magpies’ stand-in skipper hooking Callum Wilson’s lob off the line after a hopeful ball was played back into the area.
The Cherries were starting to look increasingly likely to strike again, though, and with ten minutes left to play, they did just that. Substitute Dominic Solanke robbed Fernández, held off a series of challenges and then teed up King, who swept the ball home with a first-time strike.
Hayden and DeAndre Yedlin both took aim as United rallied after falling behind but, fittingly, it was left to Ritchie to provide the final telling moment of an absorbing encounter, rifling home first-time from the latter’s looping cross.