A game of two halves and of two forwards: Defoe and Zaha
Bournemouth lined up with the 4-4-2 system we’ve been used too lately, King just behind Defoe. Francis moving to right back to replace suspended Smith.
Bournemouth we often do started strongly. Francis belted a cross onto Defoe’s forehead that was begging to be scored, only for the Palace keeper to save. Defoe needed to put it either side and it was in.
Fraser was lively and found pockets of space inside off the flank. End product was shaky but he was a threat.
We continued to press and after ten minutes a corner put us ahead. Defoe met Surman’s ball low into the box with a first time finish into the bottom corner. The lead should have been a platform to build from.
However Palace struck back instantly when Benteke spurned a good chance in the box, straight at Begovic.
Defoe then went clear through on goal for a moment but got caught by a retreating defender who pressured Defoe into missing the chance. A few years ago Defoe puts on the after-burners and scores, but not to be.
In making that challenge the defender went off injured, on game Scott Dann. Things seem to fall apart quickly. You wouldn’t think we held the lead away, we were playing open and attacking, and Palace were given lots of space of their own. No game management from us what so ever and it became end to end.
Zaha was put through in the channel by Benteke, Ake failing to make a decent challenge. Zaha’s touch was heavy and Begovic came rushing out. Zaha left himself a trailing leg to instigate and maximise any contact made, and a penalty was given. As the crowd urged for a red card, yellow was given. The penalty well dispatched for an equaliser.
Moments later Palace had the lead, as Bournemouth heads went completely. A set piece was defended initially, but the follow up was a catalogue of errors, allowing Cabaye to square for Dann to tap in. From one up to falling behind in a flash.
The ground previously mocked by the away fans suddenly became a cauldron of noise, the game turned on it’s head.
Thankfully a Defoe wonder strike on the stroke of half time gave Bournemouth some half time cheer. A beautiful through ball from L.Cook set Defoe up in a nice position, altbough the assumption was a cut back. Instead a stunning volley from an unlikely position!
It was a half that saw plenty of openings for Bournemouth, and you had to feel there would be more chances to come.
Second half Palace grew stronger. They appeared to put more bodies into midfield and started dictating the game in that middle third. As the half went on Howe changed up the winger and strikers, but didn’t give any restbite to Surman and Cook scrapping and fading in the middle.
Cabaye had a volley saved and the half chances kept flowing for the hosts. On the counter Defoe had a golden chance for his hat-trick but scuffed wide, and Ibe forced a save from range.
The final 15 mins were frenetic. In truth Palace had the better of it and if a winner was to come, it was coming from them. The impressive Loftus-Cheek, and Milivojevic both spurning chances. The late drama occured in stoppage time when Daniels challenged Zaha in the area. Penalty given again, again quite harshly.
Benteke took a poor effort that was neither down the middle or in a corner, and also at a nice height. Begovic went the right way, and having done so he had every chance of saving it. The rebound was brilliantly smashed into the stand by a following up Bournemouth defender before anyone from the home side could tap in.
A flurry at the death saw Ibe with his back to goal try a flick and turn over a defender, with the ball hitting an arm. Appeals were waved away.
All in all a point, and one I think we go away happier with.
Begovic and the improved Defoe our standouts. All of our defence were poor including a below par Ake. Midfield struggled second half and needed help. Defoe could have had more goals, missing two chances both easier than the ones he scored. But that second goal was simply wonderful! Hopefully we’ll start seeing the best of Defoe now.
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