Newcastle United: 5 things we learned from the 2-2 draw vs. Bournemouth

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Simon Francis of AFC Bournemouth and Kenedy of Newcastle United battle for the ball during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Newcastle United at Vitality Stadium on February 24, 2018 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Simon Francis of AFC Bournemouth and Kenedy of Newcastle United battle for the ball during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Newcastle United at Vitality Stadium on February 24, 2018 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /
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The match between Bournemouth and Newcastle United ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Dean Court.

Rafa Benitez will certainly express his disappointment through rigorous training sessions this week as his players dropped a 2-0 lead for a 2-2 finish against Bournemouth. Newcastle United took control of the first half and managed to score twice through Dwight Gayle.

Related Story: Newcastle United concede two late goals in draw

The second half was not bad for the Magpies, but two key scoring chances were wasted and a lack of composure late in the match opened the door for the Cherries. Here are five things we learned from the eventful draw against Bournemouth.

High Energy

Newcastle United spent the first eight or so minutes of the match testing the waters through conservative play before dominating the first half. In terms of conditioning, the two-week break from action benefited Newcastle as the Magpies showed zero signs of fatigue.

The consolidation of quick pace and high energy enabled the Magpies to take Bournemouth by surprise. Newcastle United put on a brilliant passing display and this is why Dwight Gayle was able to score two Chicharito-esque goals from close range.

Midfield Dominance

The duo of Mohamed Diame and Jonjo Shelvey was effective once again. Bournemouth had no answers for the two midfielders as Diame continued to play aggressively, whereas Shelvey lived up to his reputation as a superior facilitator.

Matt Ritchie was the beneficiary of the dominant play in central midfield as both Diame and Shelvey fed the Scottish international winger with good passes to make great plays. Kenedy put in an average display as he did not do much to stand out on Saturday, but he did attract multiple defenders which opened a few lanes for his team-mates off the ball.

Wasted Opportunities

The fact that this issue has found its way into several articles here at Newcastle Toons is frustrating. It is normal for a team to miss scoring chances, but the opportunities that were missed by Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez are unforgivable. Both players missed prime chances from close range to secure three points, but instead of ground ball shots both players placed the ball over the bar. The Magpies felt the impact of those missed chances when Bournemouth equalized in the 89th minute.

Late-game Instability

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The Newcastle defense looked sharp for 80 minutes. The unchanged back four from the Manchester United match emulated their strong and tight defending from two weeks ago, but Jamaal Lascelles and company seemed out of sync in the final minutes of the match.

The first goal that Bournemouth scored was, in simple terms, a cracking shot that no defensive unit nor goalkeeper could prevent. The second goal, however, came as a result of poor marking in the penalty area. Martin Dubravka showcased his athleticism by making some impressive saves in the second half, but he is not invincible and his defenders need to realize that.

Final 10 Minutes

Rafa Benitez is recognized as a tactical expert, but the experienced manager made a mistake in the final 10 minutes of the match by playing too defensively. When a team takes the lead in a match the final objective is crystal clear: maintain that lead. However, there are multiple ways of doing that.

Against Bournemouth, Benitez should have instructed his men to continue playing as they have the whole afternoon. Playing with an equal balance of attack and defense would have frustrated Bournemouth and Newcastle would have enjoyed more possession. Instead, Benitez chose the option of dropping back deep in the final third of the pitch. Dropping deep defensively always opens the door for dangerous attacks from the opposition regardless of their attacking quality.