Matt Ritchie scored a brilliant stoppage-time equaliser as Newcastle United edged closer to Premier League survival with a dramatic 2-2 draw against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Joshua King had scored twice, including a fine strike nine minutes from time, to put Eddie Howe’s side on the brink of a come-from-behind victory.
But Ritchie scored a superb volley in the fourth minute of added time to haunt his former club, as Rafael Benitez’s men moved seven points clear of the bottom three with as many games to go.
Salomon Rondon, who struck twice against Bournemouth in November’s reverse fixture, had earlier put Newcastle ahead with a glorious free-kick just before half-time.
FULL-TIME Bournemouth 2-2 Newcastle
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 16, 2019
Bournemouth came closest to an early goal when Ryan Fraser – passed fit to play despite struggling with a knock – was found by King and sent a left-footed shot across Martin Dubravka and off the post.
At the other end, Artur Boruc made saves from Isaac Hayden and Ayoze Perez, shortly before Jefferson Lerma escaped with a yellow card for a heavy challenge on the Newcastle forward.
Rondon produced a moment of magic in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time, beating Boruc with a dipping 25-yard free-kick that was awarded after a Jordon Ibe foul ended a fine solo run from Miguel Almiron.
It only took 145 seconds of the second half for Bournemouth to draw level, King sending Dubravka the wrong way from the spot after Federico Fernandez was adjudged to have fouled Nathan Ake as the pair battled to meet a corner.
Chris Mepham and Lerma both came close for Bournemouth, while Paul Dummett made an impressive overhead clearance on the goal-line to stop Callum Wilson’s late header before referee Mike Dean’s whistle ended a frantic goalmouth scramble.
Just as the match appeared destined for a draw, substitute Dominic Solanke dispossessed Fernandez and laid it off to King, who found the bottom corner with an excellent finish from 18 yards.
Ritchie had the last laugh, though, beating Boruc with a supreme volley after a right-wing cross from DeAndre Yedlin.
What does it mean? More Newcastle momentum
It was an odd game, with Newcastle shading the first half before failing to hit a shot on target in a poor second period prior to Ritchie’s equaliser.
Regardless, Benitez’s men maintain their recent momentum – they came into the game having won three of their last four – and it is hard to see Cardiff City catching them in the relegation scrap now.
Bournemouth were on the brink of a second straight win that would have taken them to 40 points, but the second half of their season continues to lack impetus – they have now only won one in seven.
Clinical King unlucky to miss out
King did everything he needed to for Bournemouth, his double – the second of which was a confident late finish – taking him to 11 league goals, while he also created two chances for his team-mates, including Fraser’s early effort against the post. He was unlucky not to be on the winning side.
Flailing Fernandez costs Newcastle
It was not Fernandez’s most assured performance for Newcastle. While the award may be considered harsh, the defender conceded the penalty for grappling with Ake and then lost possession to Solanke in the build-up to King’s goal, which could well have been the winner.
Key Opta Facts
– Bournemouth are unbeaten in their last 19 home Premier League games against non ‘big six’ sides (W10 D9), since losing to Burnley in November 2017.
– Newcastle have lost just two of their last nine Premier League games (W5 D2), after losing three of the four before that (D1).
– Only Manchester United (10) have won more penalties than Bournemouth in the Premier League this season (9), while only Crystal Palace (8) have scored more than the Cherries (7).
– Courtesy of King’s 48th minute penalty, Bournemouth ended a run of 138 minutes without a shot on target at the Vitality Stadium in the league.
– Against no side has Newcastle’s Rondon scored more Premier League goals than he has against Bournemouth (4, level with Swansea).
– Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (91) is the only Norwegian player to score more Premier League goals than King (41).
After the international break, Bournemouth are away to Leicester City on March 30, while Newcastle face a tough trip to Arsenal in a Monday fixture on April 1.
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