Newcastle United have extended their unbeaten run but the Magpies were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened Bournemouth.
Marcos Sensei gave Bournemouth a deserved lead after the Cherries defender stabbed home at the back post before Miguel Almiron equalised for the visitors just before half-time.
Here are five things we learned from the game.
READ MORE: Bournemouth vs Newcastle highlights
Newcastle punished for awful start
There may be a huge final to come at the end of the month, but this was a big game in its own right. A win would have seen Newcastle leapfrog Manchester United in the table and open up a four-point gap on fifth-placed Spurs with a game to spare following Antonio Conte's side's hammering at Leicester City a few hours earlier.
You would not have thought it, though. Not by the way sluggish Newcastle started this game, anyway. It was Bournemouth, rather than the visitors, who looked like they had something to play for in the opening stages.
'Intensity is our identity' is this side's unofficial motto yet Newcastle looked miles off it early on and Bournemouth only grew in confidence with each passing minute in the opening half-hour. It was the Cherries who duly opened the scoring in the 30th minute when Dango Ouattara flicked on Hamed Traore's corner and there was the unmarked Senesi to stab home at the back post.
It was bad enough that Newcastle conceded from a set-piece, but it was all the more galling after the Magpies let in a very similar goal against West Ham a week previously. This was Newcastle's worst half of the season and Howe's team were fortunate that Bournemouth only had a single goal to show for it before Almiron's equaliser.
Some perspective, as always is required - Newcastle are a whopping 17 games unbeaten in the top-flight, after all. However, if Newcastle are to finish in the top four, these are the sorts of matches they will simply have to find a way to win moving forward. By hook or by crook.
Newcastle fail to take their chances
Eddie Howe spoke ahead of this game about trying to 'find the missing ingredient to try to get us winning games again'. You suspect Howe was referring to Newcastle's issues in front of goal after the Magpies only scored two goals in their previous five league games.
Solving those issues in front of goal was going to be all the more difficult without Callum Wilson, who missed the game with a minor hamstring issue, but the number nine's absence was not the disaster it once was. Newcastle, after all, now have a record signing in Alexander Isak, who stepped up to make his first league start since September.
However, Almiron's equaliser aside, this was another frustrating outing in front of goal for Newcastle and nothing summed that up quite like the two chances the Magpies wasted to take the lead in the space of just a minute in the second half. There were 69 minutes on the clock when Isak blazed over when he should have at least hit the target and, then, a minute later, Anthony Gordon also missed the target after Neto spilled Saint-Maximin's shot.
Kieran Trippier saves Newcastle
While Newcastle will have been disappointed to only go home with a point - such are the standards at the club now - the Magpies could so easily have lost this game. In fact, Kieran Trippier produced a huge goal line clearance right at the death to, somehow, keep out Dominic Solanke's backheel in the 89th minute. Who knows if that may prove a pivotal moment in Newcastle's season?
Can this side win without Bruno Guimaraes?
Newcastle have failed to win any of their five league games Bruno Guimaraes has missed this season and even Eddie Howe has acknowledged the Brazil international is 'irreplaceable'. Bruno has that eye none of Newcastle's other midfielders quite possess with his ability to get on the ball and cut defences open.
It was a game crying out for that ability and it was rather telling that when Newcastle produced a moment of quality, the visitors profited from it. It was Allan Saint-Maximin who drifted in from the left and took four Bournemouth players out of the game with a superb pass to release Sean Longstaff. Although Neto kept out Longstaff's venomous effort, Almiron was there to knock in the rebound.
However, after scoring at such a crucial moment in the game, Newcastle failed to build on that equaliser and Saint-Maximin, Joe Willock and Almiron all ended up hobbling off on a bruising night that again exposed the Magpies' lack of depth in reserve.
Eddie Howe and Ryan Fraser get very different welcomes
It is hard to imagine an opposition manager getting a warmer reception than the one a visibly emotional Eddie Howe received when he made his way around the pitch after the game. Bournemouth fans did not get a chance to give Howe a proper send off when he left the club at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and they appeared eager to make up for lost time as he returned to his old stomping ground.
That was clear even when Howe got off the team bus an hour-and-a-half before kick-off as the former Bournemouth boss had his name chanted. Even opposite number Gary O'Neil pre-empted what was to come at full-time in his programme notes: "The work Eddie did at the Cherries needs little explaining and I'm sure he will receive a massive reception."
In contrast, Ryan Fraser felt the wrath of Bournemouth fans. The former Cherries winger, who refused to sign a contract extension to play for the club during Project Restart, had his name roundly booed when the teams were read out before the game and the home support repeatedly urged Howe to warm the Scotland international up before they chanted: 'Ryan Fraser - you know what you are' late on.
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