Down to ten men with Richarlison stupidly sent off for an innocuous head butt, Everton went two goals ahead but were unable to keep Bournemouth from snatching a draw after they too had been reduced to ten. But the goals and red cards were overshadowed by a potentially serious injury to Michael Keane.
Following a six-point start to their season under the Premier Leagues current longest serving manager Eddie Howe, Bournemouth went into Saturday’s clash with Everton just one position ahead of the resurgent Toffees.
Howe, a self-confessed Evertonian congratulated his opposite number Marco Silva when he said, “I think Marco has done well with the team that he’s inherited, but I think he’s made definite changes to their way of playing. They’ve had two good results so far, another team in form so I think it will be a very attractive game.”
With Rico suspended and injuries to Taylor and Stanislas, Howe opted for a starting line-up of: Begovic, Smith, Cook, Ake, Daniels, Brook, Surman (c), Gosling, Fraser, Wilson and King.
Everton with just one point gained from their last three visits to the Vitality Stadium were without Morgan Schneiderlin following the poor tackle on him by Lamina of Southampton last weekend. With Phil Jagielka still suspended, the squad to take on the Cherries included new signings Lucas Digne and Bernard, both on the bench.
Commenting on Friday, Manager Marco Silva noted, “It will be a tough game. They have a good squad, a good coach. They have a good style of play, as well. But we will go there to play our football and compete at a high level. We want to play in our way and I want the players to play with big confidence and enjoy what they are doing.”
The Blues duly lined up: Pickford, Baines (c), Keane, Holgate, Coleman, Gana Gueye, Davies, Schneiderlin, Walcott, Richarlison and Tosun.
Our referee on the sunny south coast was Lee Probert.
Leighton Baines wore the captains armband for this game that saw the home side mount the first attack, Fraser with an early cross from the left flank cut the ball into the Everton box with Gana Gueye on hand to calmly clear. The Blues first foray forward saw Tosun lay the ball into the path of Baines, but his firm, low shot was blocked and cleared.
The first corner saw Keane reach the cross, to nod down into the six yard area, but nobody could get on the end and the clearance saw Gana Gueye take a tumble. The visitors though had settled early and were looking to dominate possession and bring Walcott and Coleman into the game on the right side.
Nice interplay between Gana Gueye and Coleman saw Sigurdsson get in a cross for Tosun, whose effort was blocked for another Everton corner.
Bournemouth muffed an absolutely golden opportunity just past the quarter hour mark as Baines was easily bypassed by Smith. The ball was played in to Fraser who relayed it on to Wilson who had time to pick his spot, but went for the first timer and he incredibly blazed high, wide and not very handsome.
A mistake by Daniels let in Walcott, but he took a touch too many and the chance came to nothing, at the other end a right wing cross found King at the back post but his header lacked both power and direction.
Bournemouth were proving a lively opponent with Fraser at the heart of everything and Everton were a bit fortunate as he tried to find Wilson through the middle, offside the referee’s call.
A good run by Richarlison saw the Blues earn a second corner that ended disappointingly as Keane and Walcott got in a mess and the ball bouncing harmlessly away for a goal kick.
Seamus Coleman picked the wrong cross from the left, going high and long to the back post when a low, hard effort might have brought a better result. On the next Everton raid, Begovic came off his line to punch a cross from Sigurdsson clear.
Everton were now having the better of the game in midfield, looking to build and dominate while restricting the home side to counter attacks and route one tactics.
A free kick from Fraser found Ake for a free header, but he mistimed his effort the bank pinging off his shoulder and the Blues cleared, but warning was clear that Bournemouth were dangerous from set pieces.
The 40-minute mark saw controversy as Richarlison was given a straight red card for a ridiculous and unnecessary little head butt on Smith, who immediately appealed to the referee, and so for the second time in the first three games of the season, Everton would have to play fifty minutes short-handed.
Half Time: 0-0
Everton needed some of their below par players to step up in the second half, Coleman and Walcott in particular in need of imposing themselves on the game, if the Blues in their new third kit were to get anything from the game.
Not surprisingly, Bournemouth started the second half in more determined fashion, earning two early corners and causing a moment of panic with a cross from open play that Pickford had to react quickly to to clear after Holgate let the ball go, seemingly reacting to a call from the ‘keeper.
The magnificent travelling support raised their voices extolling the players to greater endeavours, before a mistake by Davies let Fraser gain possession and Gylfi Sigurdsson took one for the team, pulling Fraser back and picking up a yellow card for his troubles.
The vocal support worked a treat as the 56th minute saw Sigurdsson neatly find Tosun on the right and his quick pass threaded through found Theo Walcotton his own and he stayed calm, cool and collected before slotting a superb low shot past Begovic.
Justice was done just past the hour mark as Pickford saved an overhead kick to launch a long ball for Walcott and Smith, who’s suckered Richarlison into the head butt, clipped the heels of Walcott and referee Probert immediately evened up the red card count.
Baines tested Begovic from the resulting free kick with Davies unable to hit the target with the second effort.
Eddie Howe made a 64th minute change with Brooks replaced by former RS Ibe as the home side needed to try and force the pace of the game.
But it was the Blues who upped their game as following a free kick wide on the right, Sigurdsson put in a superb cross for Michael Keane to head downwards and Begovic was unable to prevent it crossing the line.
Sixty-six gone, ten-men apiece and the Blues two-nil up. What could go wrong?
Wilson played in by a long ball from King raced away and an excellent snidey push by Holgate put him off in the act of shooting and Pickford stood tall to block the shot.
Cenk Tosun picked up a 69th minute yellow card for a foul on Fraser as the game intensity began to crank up for the final twenty minutes.
Fraser was still the Bournemouth player Everton needed to get a grip on as a good cross from him saw Coleman head clear for a corner that led to Fraser firing in a firm shot that Pickford gathered confidently.
Bournemouth were awarded a penalty on 74 minutes as a long ball into the box saw Baines fell Wilson from behind and King found the bottom corner with a precise spot kick. Cook came on before the restart at the expense of Surman.
Three minutes later, Ibe won a corner on the right and from it, Bournemouth drew level. Ibe’s cross found Cook who escaped Baines, his header came back off the far post and Ake reacted quickest to stab home for 2-2.
Gana Gueye picked up an 80th minute yellow card for a foul on Gosling, and now it was the home side in the ascendency.
Another corner saw Wilson head wide, the warning signs were still there for Everton to take note of.
Calvert-Lewin joined the game on 83 minutes replacing Cenk Tosun with Bernard coming on for a late cameo-role debut sixty seconds later replacing Theo Walcott.
Michael Keane and Gana Gueye needed extensive treatment as following a fine clearing header from the former, the two clashed heads and both went down hard. There was a considerable delay while Michael Keane, who had had a good game, was stretchered off wearing a neck brace and receiving oxygen – Kurt Zouma taking his place for the six minutes of added on time.
Gylfi Sigurdsson had a late chance of a winner when a poor throw out by Begovic to Cook was picked off by DCL, but the Icelander curled his effort high and far too long.