by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
Jermain Defoe scored a brace to help AFC Bournemouth to a hard-earned point at Crystal Palace, with Asmir Begovic also saving a stoppage time spot kick.
Defoe had fired the Cherries into the lead, when a well worked corner found the striker free inside the area. But Crystal Palace dominated the majority of the first half, and deservedly levelled through Luka Milivojevic’s expert penalty. Scott Dann stabbed home at the back post to hand Palace the lead, before Defoe lofted home one of the goals of the season to level moments before half time.
Both sides had chances to steal the three points in the second half, but Christian Benteke saw his stoppage time penalty saved by Begovic.
The Cherries arrived at Selhurst Park without a win in their last three and were forced into one change, with Steve Cook replacing the suspended Adam Smith after the penalty controversy during the stalemate with Southampton.
Eddie Howe’s side struggled to break out of their half in the first five minutes, as Palace applied all the pressure. Timothy Fosu-Mensah played through Townsend, who had raced behind Charlie Daniels, but his drilled ball into the box was just too heavy for Christian Benteke to latch onto at the back post.
Moments later, Yohan Cabaye’s cross was flicked on inside the area, and the Cherries failed to clear their lines. Wilfried Zaha retrieved before gliding past Steve Cook with ease. A clearance fell to Schlupp, who lashed his effort narrowly over the crossbar.
The frantic pace in the early exchanges continued, when Zaha beat Cook once again before delivering from the byline, only to watch on as Benteke headed into the ground and over. The Cherries broke down the other end, and Simon Francis whipped in a cross for Jermain Defoe. The former Sunderland striker was left with a free header, but could only nod his effort at Julian Speroni.
After Loftus-Cheek glanced a header wide at the other end, Bournemouth earned themselves a corner in the tenth minute. The set-piece was elegantly worked, and the Cherries made the breakthrough.
Andrew Surman delivered a short corner, received it back and found Jermain Defoe free in the penalty area. The striker steadied himself and drove home a low shot across Speroni, to hand Howe’s side the lead.
Palace felt aggrieved with the opener after Josh King appeared to hold back Fosu-Mensah for the set piece, allowing Defoe the space to fire home.
The home side had controlled proceedings before the Cherries’ goal and they continued to press when Benteke was picked out in the box, but the Belgian could only rifle his shot into the sprawling Begovic.
Bournemouth survived once again just two minutes later, when Benteke nodded down a corner which fell to Mamadou Sakho inside the area. The defender tried to bundle the ball home, but Nathan Ake cleared off the line after a goal line scramble.
Sakho’s game would soon come to an end, after the Frenchman pulled up with a hamstring injury. Jermain Defoe broke through after being played onside by the injured player, but was denied by James Tomkins with a terrific challenge as the angle tightened.
Just after the half hour mark, Wilfried Zaha played an enticing ball to the back post for Benteke. The Palace striker looked to loop his header over Begovic and into the far corner, but Francis was positioned well to clear the effort away from under the crossbar.
The Palace pressure paid off five minutes before half time, when Begovic was judged to have brought down Zaha inside the area. Kevin Friend pointed to the penalty spot, and Milivojevic blasted his spot kick into the top right corner to level.
And on the stroke of the interval, Palace took the lead. Yohan Cabaye was fed the ball outside the area, and the Frenchman fizzed in a delivery across the face of goal which Scott Dann tapped home at the far post, his fourth consecutive goal against the Cherries.
Townsend then let loose an effort from range that Begovic saved well down low.
Just when Kevin Friend looked about to blow for half time, Jermain Defoe had other ideas. The striker eluded the attentions of Scott Dann, before watching a long ball over the defence come over his shoulder. From a tight angle, Defoe looped a cushioned volley over Speroni and into the far corner for the leveller.
Shortly after the interval, Bournemouth created the first opening when Josh King teed up Surman on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t keep his effort down. Palace responded as Cabaye took the ball down on his chest just outside the area, and fired an effort to Begovic’s left that the Bosnian saved comfortably.
On the hour mark, the Cherries should have retaken the lead. Stanislas picked up possession on the right, and drilled in a low ball that found the feet of Jermain Defoe. The striker shot first time, but could only drag his effort well wide of Speroni’s goal and miss out on his hat-trick.
In the 65th minute, both managers made their first changes. James McArthur replaced Cabaye for the Eagles, while Eddie Howe introduced Jordon Ibe in place of Junior Stanislas.
The substitution almost paid off for the Cherries, when Jordon Ibe picked the ball up 25 yards out and rifled an effort towards goal that had Speroni plunging to his right to beat away from danger.
As the pace of the game lulled with ten minutes to go, Palace won a free-kick when Zaha was fouled by Cook at the corner flag. The set-piece was swung in, Benteke nodded down, and Scott Dann fired over on the half volley from just four yards out.
Shortly after, Jermain Defoe was substituted for Callum Wilson, but it was Palace who carved out the late opportunities. Loftus-Cheek fired towards the near post that Begovic saved well, and Milivojevic somehow stabbed wide from ten yards out after Cook’s poor clearance.
Just when it looked as though Bournemouth would hold on, Palace were awarded another penalty in stoppage time. Charlie Daniels was adjudged to have fouled Zaha, despite the full-back appearing to make contact with the ball as well as the player.
Benteke stepped up, but Begovic saved superbly to save his team from defeat at the very death. The Bosnian also denied a late effort from Milivojevic, before Kevin Friend blew for full-time on an entertaining contest in London.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jermain Defoe
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Sakho, Schlupp, Loftus-Cheek, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Townsend, Zaha, Benteke
Subs: Hennessey, van Aanholt, Dann, McArthur, Sako, Kelly, Puncheon
Bournemouth: Begovic, Francis, S. Cook, Ake, Daniels, Stanislas, L. Cook, Surman, Fraser, King, Defoe
Subs: Boruc, Gosling, Arter, Afobe, Wilson, Ibe, Simpson
Referee: Kevin Friend