Brighton 1-1 Fulham: Evan Ferguson’s fifth goal of the season is cancelled out by Joao Palhinha’s equaliser as Cottagers come away from the South Coast with a point
- Evan Ferguson scored his fifth goal in the Premier League against Fulham
- Brighton held the lead for the majority of the match before Joao Palhinha’s goal
- Re-live all the action from the Amex as Palhinha rescues a point for the visitors
Even managers who appear to walk on water get soggy from time to time. This would seem to be one of those periods for Roberto de Zerbi.
It would be awfully premature to talk about difficulties at Brighton, especially in the immediate aftermath of a win over Ajax, but it is getting a little tricky and a bit sticky.
Indeed, with no Premier League wins in the past four games it is their longest such run since the opening five matches of De Zerbi’s tenure.
Granted, a spell comprising Manchester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa was never going to be straightforward, but not many teams have been better than Brighton over the 14 months since De Zerbi’s arrival, so it is a measure of progress than anything less than a sprint feels like a crawl.
They will be back, for the simple virtue of their talent and coaching, but this was a jarring setback in consideration of how they dominated the match in the first half, which they led through Evan Ferguson. At that stage they were the usual carousel of movement and quality, with Kaoru Mitoma shredding calves on the left and Simon Adingra breaking hearts on the right.
Evan Ferguson slotted home to fire his side ahead in clash with Fulham at the AMEX stadium
Joao Palhinha levelled the scoring for Fulham in the 65th minute, cancelling Brighton’s 1-0 lead
Ferguson, 21, has been in star form for the seaside club, netting five times this season so far
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But if there is a softness to this side, it is that they offer precious few guarantees at the back and as with every other league assignment this season that meant conceding.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS:
Brighton (3-5-1-1): Steele 5.5; Webster 7, Dunk 7, Julio 6.5; Adingra 7.5 (Veltman 71, 6.5), Gross 7, Baleba 6.5 (Buonanotte 71, 6), Dahoud 6 (Gilmour 71, 6), Mitoma 6.5; Lallana 6 (Fati 58); Ferguson 7.5 (Pedro 77).
Subs not used: Verbruggen, Milner, Van Hecke, Hinshelwood.
Manager: Roberto de Zerbi 7
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Leno 7; Castagne 6.5, Bassey 6, Ream 6.5, Robinson 5.5; Reed 6 (Pereira 58, 7), Palhinha 7.5; De Cordova-Reid 6 (Wilson 58, 7), Iwobi 7, Willian 6 (Cairney 85); Jimenez 5 (Muniz 58, 6).
Subs not used: Rodak, Ballo-Toure, Lukic, Tanton, De Fougerolles.
Booked: Muniz, Robinson, Wilson
Manager: Marco Silva 7
Referee: Michael Salisbury 5
Joao Palhinha deserves great credit for the goal, and so does Marco Silva for the substitutions that reclaimed a midfield battle seemingly lost, but the origin of the strike was over-elaboration at the back. If that is the curse of an attractive team, so be it, but a draw will always look avoidable when it is rooted in those sorts of errors.
Perspective is needed, naturally.
De Zerbi is building a fine thing on the south coast, as shown by win over Ajax. Maybe the truth of the matter is the fatigue of those Europa League exertions, which contributed to the Brighton manager making six changes to his side here and also tweaking his system to a back three. For a time, that gave Brighton control of the middle – domination through suffocation – and with it they breezed their way through the first-half.
To go by the numbers, they had 72 per cent of the ball, albeit only one goal, but on the eye the gulf was even clearer and it was lit up by Simon Adingra on Brighton’s right wing.
It’s far too early to say if he will become one of those discoveries who trigger a transfer-market raid, but plainly the 21-year-old Ivorian is a talent, a quick-footed, fast-thinking attacker whose only sense of mercy here was to share his cruelty between Antonee Robinson and Harrison Reed.
His output might have been better, with two mediocre finishes from decent chances in the opening 20 minutes, but he was a personification of his side – quick, nimble, forever rocking on to the front foot.
For that wider collective, their hold on this match became something more tangible in the 26th minute, when they went ahead.
As with Fulham’s defeat at Tottenham on Monday, there was a hefty degree of complicity from Marco Silva’s side in falling behind.
In this instance that meant a loose pass from Harrison Reed, an interception by Igor Julio, a surge from Pascal Gross and a brilliantly precise finish by Ferguson for his fifth of the season. Silva threw his hands in the air and that was fair enough – his side did next to nothing across the entirety of the first period.
Palhinha has scored five times for Fulham and ensured Cottagers took a point back to London
Kaoru Mitoma came close to finding the opener for the Seagulls but narrowly missed the goal
Fulham boss Marco Silva had a friendly embrace with Roberto de Zerbi at the Amex Stadium
Brighton are currently 7th in the table, enjoying European football for the first time ever
Lewis Dunk opened the second half by hitting the bar with a free-kick, but in turn that served as a catalyst for the onus of the game shifting because it prompted a triple change from Silva. Harry Wilson in particular made an impact as Fulham regained some ground in the middle and increasingly caused some pressure.
That was best shown in the equaliser, when Brighton’s goalkeeper Jason Steele over-complicated matters at the back and played Gross into trouble. He was smothered by Alex Iwobi, before Wilson slipped a pass to Andreas Palhinha. He took a touch on the edge of the area and drilled to the top corner.
The place suddenly turned edgy. Part of that centred on accusations of time-wasting and the apparent feigning injury by Fulham, but undeniably the tension grew through missed chances by Adam Webster, Joel Veltman and Julio.
A draw is no bad thing, but at Brighton they have come to expect more.
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