Watford 2 Bournemouth 2: Defoe denies Watford in stoppage time
Jermain Defoe struck deep into stoppage time to rescue a 2-2 draw for Bournemouth at Watford on Saturday, ending Javi Gracia's 100 per cent home winning record in the Premier League.
Goals from Kiko Femenia and Roberto Pereyra appeared to have done enough for the home side, who had dug deep to hold the lead, but second-half substitute Defoe punished slack defending to secure a share of the spoils at Vicarage Road.
Despite an encouraging start, Bournemouth found themselves trailing early on through Femenia's first Premier League goal, which was aided by a deflection.
The visitors were gifted an equaliser on the stroke of half-time when Jose Holebas bizarrely opted to push the ball away with his hand inside the area, leaving Josh King to coolly convert from 12 yards.
Watford were seemingly jolted back into life by Gracia at half-time as they appeared more aggressive at the start of the second period and Pereyra put them ahead in the 49th minute - a deflection benefiting the hosts again.
But they were unable to maintain their level and Bournemouth levelled right at the end, Defoe capitalising on a loss of concentration by smashing home from close range, ending Gracia's run of three successive home wins at the start of his Watford tenure.
Bournemouth were purposeful and dangerous in a strong start at Vicarage Road and crafted two early chances.
Nathan Ake hit the crossbar with a close-range header, before Junior Stanislas did well to test Orestis Karnezis from just outside the area after spinning Femenia.
But in the 13th minute Watford made them pay for not making the most of their chances.
A corner was cleared as far as Femenia just inside the area and the Spaniard steered a volley goalwards, with a crucial deflection off King taking the ball away from Asmir Begovic.
But a moment of madness from Holebas gifted Bournemouth the chance to restore parity just before the break as the left-back slapped the ball in the area and King tucked away the resulting penalty.
Bournemouth did not remain on level terms for long, however, with Watford regaining the lead three minutes into the second period.
Troy Deeney passed into the area from the left after tussling with Ryan Fraser and Will Hughes teed up Pereyra, whose effort took a slight flick off Dan Gosling before finding the bottom-right corner.
After something of a lull, Eddie Howe showed his intent by introducing Defoe for the ineffective Jordon Ibe just after the hour to provide support for Callum Wilson and King.
And that gung-ho approach ultimately paid off for Howe when Defoe latched on to a loose bouncing ball in the area and confidently blasted past Karnezis in the second minute of stoppage time to secure a deserved point for the Cherries.
15 - Jermain Defoe has scored 15 goals in the 90th minute or later in Premier League history, at least four more than any other player. Hero.-- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 31, 2018