Callum Wilson scrambled home a 79th-minute equaliser as a compelling Premier League contest between Brighton and Hove Albion and Bournemouth finished 2-2 at the Amex Stadium.
Bournemouth edge three points clear of the relegation zone, still two shy of their opponents, who had every right to be aggrieved over not claiming victory.
Visiting boss Eddie Howe warned the Cherries against allowing their former striker Glenn Murray any chances to punish them before the match but a routine 48th-minute finish from the veteran looked like it would be enough to seal the points.
But some slapstick set-piece defending allowed Wilson to join Murray on six goals for the season.
Pascal Gross and Jose Izquierdo were the architects of both Brighton goals, the opening coming courtesy of Anthony Knockaert, and looked like being the difference between the sides as they threatened throughout.
Bournemouth’s first equaliser came when Steve Cook preceded Murray in netting against his old employers and Jordon Ibe struck the post before Wilson earned a share of the spoils.
16 – Callum Wilson now holds the @PremierLeague record as the highest scoring player (16 goals) without assisting a single goal, overtaking Branko Strupar (15 goals, 0 assists). Selfish. #BHABOU #NewYearsDay pic.twitter.com/6fzOlF6q8X
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 1, 2018
Brighton were by far the sharpest team during the opening exchanges and their reward was a nicely worked opener.
Bournemouth found themselves overloaded down the right flank and a deft lay-off from Gross released Izquierdo into the area, with the Colombia winger cutting the ball across goal for Knockaert to gleefully finish from a tight angle.
Wilson clipped a left-footed attempt past the post off an excellent Charlie Daniels cross at the other end and Harry Arter had penalty claims understandably waved away when his shot struck a sliding Knockaert on the arm.
Asmir Begovic prevented Albion from extending their lead in the 28th minute, making a fine reaction save to deny ex-Cherries striker Glenn Murray, while his opposite number Mat Ryan kept out a rasping drive from Ibe.
But Ryan was helpless as Cook’s header from Ibe’s 33rd-minute corner looped home via the underside of the crossbar.
Bournemouth found themselves in the ascendancy as half-time approached, with Ryan repelling a fierce Daniels free-kick and a low strike from Marc Pugh, although Begovic was called upon once more when Izquierdo almost crowned the latest crisp Brighton move featuring Murray and Gross.
That trio were all involved as Brighton restored their lead three minutes into the second half.
Simon Francis carelessly gave away possession and Gross drove at the backpedalling Bournemouth backline before playing in the scampering Izquierdo, who left Murray with a simple task from close range.
2 – José Izquierdo the first Colombian to assist two goals in a Premier League game since Juan Pablo Angel in September 2002. Chévere. pic.twitter.com/e58BGYeAa6
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 1, 2018
Knockaert saw Cook get in the way of a powerful left-footed strike in the 56th minute and Bournemouth’s goalscorer thwarted the excellent Gross with similar bravery as Brighton looked to snuff out their opponents’ hopes.
Having two assists to his name already, Izquierdo elected to go for glory himself in the 68th minute but blasted at Begovic having dribbled too close to the keeper, leaving an unmarked Davy Propper as furious as his manager on the touchline.
It would prove a costly miss when, after Ibe saw a shot run wide via the post and a rebound off the prone Ryan, Bournemouth levelled in a manner entirely out of keeping with an attractive game.
Brighton tried, failed and flailed in their attempts to clear a set-piece, with Propper the worst offender, and the ball ran to Wilson off Adam Smith and the striker prodded home.
Key Opta stats:
– In what was Chris Hughton’s 150th competitive match in charge of Brighton and Hove Albion, the Seagulls ended a run of three consecutive league defeats against Bournemouth with this draw.
– Bournemouth have now gone eight league matches unbeaten against Brighton (W4 D4), with their last defeat coming back in January 2008 (2-3).
– Brighton scored as many goals today (2) as they did in their previous nine Premier League games, having failed to score in seven of their previous nine league matches.
– Callum Wilson’s goal meant that Bournemouth have now scored 50 away goals in the Premier League.
– Wilson has scored 16 Premier League goals without providing an assist – the most a player has scored in the competition without setting up a teammate, overtaking Branko Strupar (15 goals, 0 assists).
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