- Knockaert gives Seagulls an early lead
- Steve Cook equalises for AFC Bournemouth
- Glenn Murray puts Albion back in front after the restart
- Callum Wilson’s late goal means spoils are shared
Brighton & Hove Albion played out an eventful 2-2 New Year's Day draw with AFC Bournemouth at the Amex Stadium.
An early strike from Anthony Knockaert was cancelled out by Steve Cook’s equalising header just after the half hour mark, before Glenn Murray put the hosts back in front at the start of the second half.
But Callum Wilson levelled again for the visitors 12 minutes from time and it ended honours even in Albion’s first game of 2018.
Chris Hughton made three changes for the visit of the Cherries to the Amex Stadium. Ezequiel Schelotto and Markus Suttner came into the side in the full-back positions, whilst Jose Izquierdo was given a starting berth on the left-hand side of midfield.
It meant that Bruno and Solly March dropped to the Albion bench and Gaetan Bong was left out of the squad.
The hosts began the game on the front foot and were rewarded for their positive start after just five minutes.
Suttner exchanged passes with Pascal Gross who then found the run of Izquierdo in behind the visiting defence – and his drilled effort across goal allowed Knockaert to tap in at the far post.
The Seagulls went close again five minutes later as Dale Stephens played the ball down the line to Izquierdo. The Colombian winger quickly cut inside and sent a low effort bouncing just wide of Asmir Begovic’s left-hand post.
Bournemouth then went close when Charlie Daniels’ intelligent ball into the area was flicked wide by forward Wilson, before both Murray and Davy Propper saw shots blocked in quick succession as Hughton’s men remained in the ascendency.
Two minutes before the half-hour mark the hosts went close once more.
Murray won possession back in the middle of the field and found Gross. The German midfielder laid it back into the striker’s path but Begovic did well to tip the effort wide and away from danger from a tight angle.
Shortly afterwards the visitors did draw level through defender Cook. The former Seagulls man rose highest to meet a corner from the right and glanced the ball into the far corner of the net.
The home side went agonisingly close to retaking the lead three minutes before the interval when Murray and Gross combined well to present Izquierdo with a chance inside the six-yard box, but Begovic blocked the winger’s effort from close range. Ryan then saved from Marc Pugh as an entertaining half came to a close.
Hughton’s men started the second half well, as they had done in the first, and were soon back in front.
Gross ran forward and played the ball to Izquierdo who had made a clever run in behind Adam Smith. The winger then unselfishly squared the ball to Murray in the centre who took a touch before coolly finding the net.
The Seagulls continued to probe for another goal as the game reached the hour mark, with Gross and Shane Duffy both seeing efforts from close range blocked in quick succession, before Eddie Howe introduced Nathan Ake for Pugh.
Lys Mousset then replaced Benik Afobe as the visitors made their second switch, before Izquierdo ran nearly enough the length of the pitch before firing straight at Begovic as the Seagulls caught the Cherries on the counter attack.
Dan Gosling then replaced Harry Arter as Bournemouth made their final switch and Ryan denied Jordon Ibe from distance as the Australian saved down to his right-hand side.
The impressive Schelotto withdrew through injury and was replaced by Bruno as Albion made their first change with 15 minutes left to play – but the visitors would soon draw level once more as Wilson bundled home after a scramble in the Albion penalty area.
Izzy Brown replaced the influential Gross with three minutes of normal time left to play, and Murray picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Daniels.
Three additional minutes were signalled at the end of the contest with both sides still going in search of a winning goal – but neither could muster another opportunity and the game ended all square.
Albion line-up: Ryan, Schelotto (Bruno 77), Dunk ©, Duffy, Suttner, Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo, Gross (Brown 87), Murray.
Subs not used: Krul, Goldson, Kayal, March, Hemed.
AFC Bournemouth line-up: Begovic, Smith, Francis ©, Cook, Daniels, Pugh (Ake 59), Arter (Gosling 71), L. Cook, Ibe, Wilson, Afobe (Mousset 65).
Subs not used: Boruc, Surman, Butcher, Simpson.