Junior Stanislas scored a 97th-minute equaliser as Bournemouth held Everton to a thrilling 3-3 draw at Dean Court on Saturday.
Following a one-sided first half in which goals from Romelu Lukaku and Ramiro Funes Mori gave the visitors a deserved, and what appeared comfortable, lead, an outstanding finish from substitute Adam Smith inspired a comeback that was eventually completed deep into stoppage time with the second of Stanislas’ equalising goals after Ross Barkley had again put Everton ahead.
Bournemouth climb up to 18th but remain in the relegation zone with the point gained, though more crucially they recovered the sense of momentum that began with their recent improved performances in the 1-0 defeat by Newcastle and the 2-2 draw at Swansea.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez will no doubt reflect on a wasted opportunity, when his side should have secured a convincing victory and strengthened their challenge for the top four.
It had earlier appeared that Bournemouth’s finest chance of victory perhaps came and went as early as the third minute. Stanislas created space on the left before finding Dan Gosling in the penalty area, but despite being well-positioned to give his side the lead, the midfielder connected poorly with Stanislas’ ball and sent his shot wide of the target.
Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe had spoken in the week of his admiration for Everton’s Roberto Martinez and of his determination to persevere with his team’s attractive, passing philosophy.
There is much to be said for a manager who remains confident in his beliefs, but throughout the first half their gameplan appeared to represent a significant risk, and so it swiftly proved.
From a relatively aimless cross and under minimal pressure, Simon Francis inexplicably headed the ball to Arouna Kone instead to goalkeeper Adam Federici, and was fortunate that the Australian saved Kone’s near-post shot instead of watching Everton take the lead.
He was equally fortunate that from the resultant corner Federici produced an equally impressive save from a powerful Lukaku header, but with Bournemouth’s defence far from responding, the visitors soon took the lead.
After another corner and from Barkley’s 25th-minute cross, Funes Mori headed his first goal for the club since his £9.5million summer arrival into the top left corner beyond Federici.
Further pressure followed, and within 11 minutes Everton went 2-0 ahead. With possession on the right wing, Gerard Deulofeu played a through-ball to Lukaku who, with the classiest of touches, teed himself up to powerfully finish inside Federici’s near, right post.
Bournemouth improved after half-time against their relaxed opponents, but despite further efforts on goal they failed to truly threaten until Smith scored, seemingly from nowhere.
Producing an outstanding 80th-minute finish from the edge of the area and the outside of his boot that went in off the post, the substitute raised hopes of a comeback that Stanislas, in the 87th minute, appeared to have completed.
The impressive Joshua King found Stanislas free in the penalty area, and from in front of goal the forward shot into the top right corner to make it 2-2.
With Bournemouth close to securing the point their efforts deserved, more poor defending again gifted Everton the lead when possession was conceded and, from close range, Seamus Coleman found Barkley to finish from directly in front of goal.
In the eighth minute of stoppage time, and with defeat appearing inevitable, Charlie Daniels sent a hopeful cross into the box and, incredibly, Stanislas reached it to head in and seal a 3-3 draw. While Bournemouth’s lack of quality may eventually prove their downfall, it appears their spirit will never be found wanting.