Marcos Alonso scored twice as Chelsea came from behind to earn a point against struggling Bournemouth in an entertaining encounter at Vitality Stadium.
Wing-back Alonso followed in Olivier Giroud’s shot which had come back off the bar to open the scoring in the 33rd minute and struck again five minutes from time to rescue the Blues, whose top-four aspirations were dealt another blow.
It could have been much worse, however, after Eddie Howe’s side scored twice in three second-half minutes through Jefferson Lerma and Joshua King to leave the visitors stunned.
The Cherries, who remain two points above the Premier League relegation places, had made an excellent start but midfielder Philip Billing spurned two glorious opportunities inside the opening five minutes before Chelsea took control.
In a reversal of the first half, Giroud should have doubled Chelsea’s advantage within minutes of the restart, but Lerma’s 54th-minute equaliser saw another momentum swing.
The hosts fought hard defensively to protect their slender lead, but Chelsea’s late pressure eventually told as Alonso popped up in the right place once again.
The draw sees Chelsea edge four points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United, who face Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday (14:00 GMT).
Chelsea arrived at Vitality Stadium with one clear objective after they were comprehensively outclassed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday night – to claim three points and maintain their diminishing hold on fourth position at all costs.
A disheartening 3-0 home defeat by the German champions left Chelsea’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals in tatters, and while this season – Frank Lampard’s first as Chelsea boss and with the club initially operating under a transfer ban – had always been viewed as a transitional one, falling short of fourth would surely be viewed as a failure after building a nine-point cushion to fifth place in November.
The players responded to Lampard’s claim that their season “starts now” after defeat against Manchester United almost two weeks ago, beating another top-four rival Tottenham 2-1 last weekend to end a four-game winless run, but they were rather fortunate not to find themselves behind early on against a lively Bournemouth side.
They weathered an early storm that saw Billing twice allowed to shoot from close range, a Fikayo Tomori miskick at fault for one of those as he initially appeared uncertain in his first league start since December.
But the Blues patiently asserted themselves and Mason Mount’s saved attempt after eight minutes signalled the start of an otherwise dominant first-half display – though Jorginho’s needless 10th yellow card of the campaign and subsequent two-match suspension will not have pleased manager Lampard.
The return of central defender Nathan Ake and Lerma in midfield ensured Bournemouth stood firm under growing Chelsea pressure in the first half, but there was little they could do to prevent Alonso opening the scoring once Giroud’s flicked shot had grazed the bar.
That leaves Bournemouth with just one clean sheet in 17 games – their last in a 1-0 win over Chelsea in December.
The Cherries appeared to be struggling before Lerma fired in the equaliser, and with the home crowd now roaring Howe’s side on King’s tap-in from Stacey’s low cross completed a remarkable 176-second turnaround.
Bournemouth dropped deep in an attempt to see out their slender advantage, with Ramsdale providing the heroics in goal before Alonso dealt a cruel late blow.
With seven points fewer than at this stage last season, there is no mistaking Howe’s side remain in deep trouble as four points separate five sides in the fight to stay up.
It is easy to forget that 11 years ago the club fought back from a 17-point deduction to secure its Football League status – and there is plenty of evidence the current side is up for this rather different challenge now.
Man of the match – Marcos Alonso
Points shared for the first time – the stats
- This is the first draw between these sides in the Premier League, in what was their 10th meeting.
- Bournemouth have scored two or more goals in each of their past three home league games, having scored more than once in just three of their previous 17.
- Chelsea are winless in four Premier League away games – their longest run within the same season since a run of seven in 2015.
- Bournemouth’s Joshua King has scored in each of his past three home league games against Chelsea, scoring four times. He’s only scored more at home against West Ham (five).
- Since the start of last season, only Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold (24) has more Premier League assists than Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser (18).
- Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso scored his third brace in the Premier League, with all three coming away from home.