A second-half strike from West Ham United substitute Javier Hernandez was enough to give them a valuable point against Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors had taken the lead on 71 minutes through Scottish winger Ryan Fraser in an affair that they had played second fiddle in for the most part up until that point, though their advantage wouldn’t last for very long at all.
Less than 70 seconds later, Chicharito, a man who has been the subject of much speculation in recent times, popped up in trademark style to level the scores up for David Moyes’ men, both teams had chances after that but had to settle for the draw in the end.
The East Londoners’ share of the spoils sees them remain in 11th position, level on points with Watford above and still unbeaten in the year of 2018, while the South Coast side have moved up a single place to 12th, still just one point behind their opposition on Saturday.
From the start in Stratford, Hammers Boss Moyes decided on seven changes to his starting Xl from the FA Cup Third Round Replay victory over Shrewsbury Town last Tuesday night.
Departing from the side was England keeper Joe Hart, Sam Byram, Academy graduates Reece Burke, Reece Oxford, and Josh Cullen, and forwards Andre Ayew and Toni Martinez, they were replaced by Adrian San-Miguel, veterans Pablo Zabaleta and James Collins, Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble and star man Marko Arnautovic.
Meanwhile, Cherries Manager Howe made eight alterations to his side in the wake of their own FA Cup Replay, a 3-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Keeper Asmir Begovic, Simon Francis, goal-scorer on Boxing Day when these two last met Nathan Ake, Adam Smith, England U21 star Lewis Cook, Dan Gosling, Jordon Ibe and AFC’s hero last time out in this fixture Callum Wilson, they took the places of Artur Boruc, starlet Jack Simpson, Connor Mahoney, Andrew Surman, Harry Arter, Marc Pugh, Frenchman Lys Mousset and East London-born striker Benik Afobe.
From the off in East London, the home side had the best of the chances and should have led within the first 15 minutes, the ever-present Arnautovic at the forefront of the early action.
But, it would be full-back Cresswell to deliver the first real effort of note on goal, coming in the form of a third-minute drive that whistled just wide, Manuel Lanzini was inches from getting a touch to turn it in.
This would be a sign of things to come for Begovic between the sticks in the Bournemouth net, Noble was the next to try his luck, firing just over the bar with a well-taken volley.
The Bosnian in goal was soon tested out, however, and unsurprisingly, it was Arnautovic to do so, getting on the end of a Zabaleta cross that finished off a superb passing move.
The Austrian International’s shot seemed destined for the roof of the net, though Begovic had other ideas, reaching high to tip the ball over, a magnificent save.
A mere two minutes later, Arnautovic found himself with the goal bearing down once more having been clipped in over the top, the shot-stopper getting to the ball first to clear.
It was soon the turn of the visitors to give Adrian something to think about, a well-worked corner finding its way to Cook on the edge of the 16-yard box, he was left to curl one centimetres wide of the left top corner.
This came just moments after a corner from the away side went all the way through to Skipper Francis, Angelo Ogbonna managed to hook his low cross away and the scores remained level at the break.
It was not hard to see that both were lacking something of a cutting-edge in attack, something that would soon change after half-time, and the opportunities continued to flow at one end.
A deft pass from Cresswell ten minutes in, set Lanzini free on the left, his chop back across goal somehow couldn’t find a head for a simple tap-in, mere moments before Collins’ header was smartly pushed away by Begovic, the Argentina International not quite quick enough to pick up the pieces.
Lanzini always looked a threat, though a short while after a mesmeric run and shot over from him, he was forced off with a hamstring injury, significantly replaced by Hernandez.
Though it was the introduction of ex-Hammer Junior Stanislas that looked to have had the most impact on the game on 70 minutes, he was about to prove the assist for the opener.
Receiving a pass from Steve Cook, the paceman turned and spotted the run of Fraser, the Scottish International making no mistake from a tricky angle and sending the travelling Cherries fans delirious.
It had all come rather out of blue and for just over a minute, it looked like West Ham were going to be made to pay for their missed chances, not on this occasion though.
From the kick-off, Ogbonna launched one in, Kouyate was there to flick it on for Chicharito, his touch teeing up Arnautovic for a volley, ten minutes after being played clean through without converting unusually, his effort was blocked by Francis.
However, lurking was Hernandez to do what he does best, poaching, this time on his weaker foot to direct the ball under Begovic and into the bottom corner, raising the roof on a shocked London Stadium.
The two strikes should have set up a grand-stand finish and they appeared to do so when Stanislas forced a wondrous save out of Adrian from range, though it seemed neither team had the energy to produce any clear-cut openings in the latter knockings of the affair.
Moyes’ men have now not lost in seven games in all Competitions, the longest unbeaten run of the season, while Howe’s side, on the day their Manager made it 100 PL appearances, extended their own League undefeated stint to five, meaning that both have now had identical results in their last five in the English Top-Flight.
Next up for the Hammers will be the Saturday afternoon FA Cup Fourth Round trip to face Wigan, a League One outfit that got the better of Bournemouth in the Third Round.
Meanwhile, the Cherries will now enjoy the liberty of a ten-day break before they next take to the field, journeying to Stamford Bridge to take on reigning Champions Chelsea.