LONDON, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Chelsea’s erratic week ended with another topsy-turvy affair as they eked out a dramatic 2-2 Premier League draw at struggling Bournemouth on Saturday thanks to a double from their goal-hungry defender Marcos Alonso.
The Spanish full back headed home from a rebound with the predatory instinct of a poacher five minutes for time to ensure Chelsea avoided a second miserable defeat in five days following their humbling Champions League home loss to Bayern Munich.
Chelsea’s chances of ensuring they will be in Europe’s top tournament next season, though, did suffer a setback after Bournemouth responded to Alonso’s first-half goal with two in three second-half minutes from Jefferson Lerma and Josh King.
Yet Alonso, who also scored in the Blues’ big win over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, notched the leveller that meant fourth-placed Chelsea moved to 45 points, five behind third-placed Leicester City.
Liverpool, who lead the league on 79 points, were playing in the day’s late match at Watford.
For Bournemouth, though, there could only be frustration at seeing a comeback victory snatched away on an afternoon when fellow strugglers West Ham United leapt out of the bottom three with a 3-1 win over Southampton.
A few thousand Hammers’ fans marched outside the London Stadium before the game, protesting at the club’s owners, but their mood was lightened as Jarrod Bowen, the 22 million-pound ($28 million) January signing, marked his full debut with a fine goal.
Southampton teenager Michael Obafemi equalised but the Hammers’ supremacy was underlined when Sebastien Haller and Michail Antonio scored the goals that propelled West Ham to 16th on 27 points, ahead of Bournemouth on goal difference.
Brighton & Hove Albion are still in a precarious 15th position as former England manager Roy Hodgson celebrated his 100th Premier League match in charge of Crystal Palace with a 1-0 win at the home of their old rivals.
Jordan Ayew’s 70th-minute winner, conjured up against the run of play, left Brighton pondering serious difficulties as they face a daunting fixture list for the rest of the season.
Newcastle United could get sucked into the relegation zone too if their strike force remains as blunt as it did in the 0-0 draw at home to Burnley, the fourth successive game in which they have failed to score.
$1 = 0.7800 pounds Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond