Bournemouth 3 Watford 3: Six-goal thriller ends all square
Bournemouth and Watford took a point each from a six-goal thriller at the Vitality Stadium that finished 3-3.
Troy Deeney scored twice to put visitors Watford 2-0 up before four goals in six remarkable minutes shook up the scoreline.
First, goals from Nathan Ake and Callum Wilson pulled the Cherries level, although they were soon behind once again when Ken Sema drilled home.
Ryan Fraser then levelled matters for a second time before the nets were given a rest in a goalless second half.
Watford went in front after 14 minutes, when some neat play down the right led to a cross from Sema that found Deeney in space, the striker planting a powerful header beyond goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Deeney doubled his tally when Steve Cook's challenge to halt a Gerard Deulofeu run inadvertently rolled the ball into the Watford captain's path, leaving him to slot past Begovic.
The away side should arguably have been reduced to 10 men soon after, Abdoulaye Doucoure escaping with a yellow card following a studs-up challenge on Fraser.
Ake then pulled the home side back into the match, reacting quickest to nod home after Ben Foster produced a brilliant save to deny Dan Gosling, and Wilson's looping header had them level three minutes later.
A staggering period of play then saw Sema fizz a left-footed strike into the bottom right-hand corner to restore Watford's lead after Bournemouth failed to clear a long ball, before Fraser got on the end of a Junior Stanislas pass from the right wing to make it 3-3.
What. A. Half.
— AFC Bournemouth (@afcbournemouth) January 2, 2019
Doucoure was replaced in the 56th minute after looking in danger of upgrading to a red card, although Etienne Capoue was then lucky to avoid a second yellow after catching Gosling with an arm to the face.
Foster - impressive despite conceding three goals - superbly pushed over a Wilson header and was again on hand to prevent Josh King capitalising on a Craig Cathcart error in the box 15 minutes from time.
Ake survived Watford calls for a penalty after the ball struck his arm in stoppage time, as a game of vastly contrasting halves neared a climax.
What does it mean? Honours even in mid-table clash
Only two points separated these sides coming into the match and they proved difficult to split on the pitch. Defeat for Wolves at home to Crystal Palace means Watford climb to eighth with a point, while Bournemouth stay 12th.
Deeney had not scored from open play since September but he ended that run emphatically in the first half. It should not come as much of a surprise that he broke his duck against Bournemouth – Deeney's scored seven times when facing the Cherries, more goals than he's managed against any other side for Watford.
Cause for alarm
Kick-off at the Vitality Stadium was delayed by 15 minutes after a fire alarm prompted emergency services to attend, before both managers witnessed some alarming defending during a frantic period in the first half that saw Watford give up their two-goal advantage, move back in front and then concede another equaliser.
Key Opta Facts
- The six goals in the first half was the most in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game since May 2015 (Southampton v Aston Villa).
- There were just 12 minutes and 41 seconds between the second and sixth goals going in.
- Bournemouth attempted 12 shots on target in this match against Watford; the most they have ever had in a Premier League match.
- Troy Deeney has now scored four goals from open play this season in the Premier League - twice as many as he managed in the entire 2017-18 campaign.
- Callum Wilson has been involved in 14 league goals in this campaign (nine goals, five assists). The only English players to be involved in more are Harry Kane (18) and Raheem Sterling (15).
Both sides are in FA Cup action this week, with Bournemouth hosting Premier League rivals Brighton and Hove Albion while Watford head to non-league Woking.