Crystal Palace twice failed to hang on to leads in the second half as they had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Substitute Joshua King grabbed an equaliser in the 89th minute as Bournemouth, who still have not beaten their opponents at home since November 1988, snatched a point and denied the visitors what would have been a vital victory in their battle against the drop.
Luka Milivojevic had earlier scored his 10th Premier League goal of the season to put Palace ahead on the south coast, the Serbian celebrating his 27th birthday in style with a glorious free-kick.
The visitors missed a host of opportunities to grab a crucial second goal before they were pegged back just after the hour mark, substitute Lys Mousset scoring an equaliser less than three minutes after coming on.
Still, Wilfried Zaha’s left-footed strike appeared set to give Palace a crucial win, his shot flashing beyond goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to make it 2-1 in the 75th minute.
However, King became the second replacement to score for Bournemouth, reacting quickly to convert a flick-on at the back post and deny Roy Hodgson’s side right at the death.
The result lifts 17th-placed Palace a point further clear of the relegation zone, though they will be disappointed not to return home with all three having twice edged ahead in a game that only came to life after the interval.
Without the injured Christian Benteke, Zaha and Andros Townsend formed a new-look partnership up top, though they struggled to gain a foothold in a first half devoid of quality.
While Hodgson lacked forward options – meaning a place on the bench for teenager James Daly – opposite number Howe opted to go with past form in picking Jermain Defoe, who had scored twice in each of his last three Premier League games against Palace.
The former England international – making his first league start in 2018 – looked as likely as anyone to break the deadlock before the break, seeing two shots at goal blocked by defenders.
Defoe was eventually involved in the opening goal that arrived two minutes after the break, albeit not in a way that benefited his own team.
It was his foul on Yohan Cabaye that allowed set-piece specialist Milivojevic to curl in a delightful free-kick from a central position, the midfielder scoring for a third successive game.
Palace spurned chances to double their lead, defender Patrick van Aanholt missing the best of the lot when he failed to convert a one-on-one opportunity, before Ryan Fraser seized on a poor defensive header to tee up Mousset, who fired in from outside the box.
Zaha appeared to make amends for an earlier miss when he put his team back ahead, a clever Cruyff turn on the edge of the penalty area creating the opportunity to unleash a left-footed drive beyond the motion Begovic.
Palace appeared set to reign until King’s late intervention, Steve Cook’s touch at a corner allowing the forward to fire Bournemouth level and leave Hodgson’s men still looking nervously over their shoulders in the standings, as nearest rivals Southampton still have two games in hand.