Brighton’s wait for a Premier League win extended to six matches after Mahmoud Dahoud’s red card and Adam Webster’s own goal helped Sheffield United to a 1-1 draw.
The Seagulls may have cruised to victory at Ajax in the Europa League on Thursday but they haven’t claimed three points in the league since September 24, with the challenges of competing at home and abroad beginning to take their toll.
Roberto De Zerbi made six changes for the visit of Sheffield United amid a host of injuries and saw his side dominate the opening stages, with Simon Adingra’s excellent early goal setting them on their way.
But Brighton’s intensity dropped towards the end of the half and they were unable to regain their momentum, with Mahmoud Dahoud’s red card for a stamp on Ben Osborn fuelling belief that the Blades could earn the points that would move them off the bottom of the Premier League.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side did just that when Jayden Bogle’s low cross was turned into the back of his own net by Adam Webster, earning them their first away point of the season.
Brighton: Steele (6), Gross (7), Webster (5), Van Hecke (6), Igor (6), Gilmour (6), Dahoud (5), Buonanotte (6), Lallana (6), Adingra (8), Fati (6).
Subs: Pedro (6), Mitoma (7), Baleba (5), Veltman (6).
Sheffield United: Foderingham (7), Baldock (6), Trusty (6), Robinson (6), Bogle (7), Souza (6), Norwood (7), Thomas (6), McAtee (6), Hamer (7), Archer (7).
Subs: Osborn (6), Ben Slimane (n/a), Osula (n/a).
Player of the match: Simon Adingra
How Blades hit back to claim vital point
After choosing to rest Kaoru Mitoma and losing Lewis Dunk to injury before the game, De Zerbi would have been thrilled with the start Brighton made against a lacklustre Sheffield United.
Adingra had the hosts in front after just five minutes when he danced through the Blades’ defence before receiving Facundo Buonanotte’s flicked pass and directing the ball past Wes Foderingham.
- Brighton made six changes, bringing Jason Steele, Adam Webster, Igor Julio, Billy Gilmour, Adam Lallana and Facundo Buonanotte in for Bart Verbruggen, Joel Veltman, Lewis Dunk, James Milner, Kaoru Mitoma and Joao Pedro.
- Sheffield United made just one change as James McAtee replaced the injured Rhian Brewster.
It seemed as though the only doubt hanging over the Amex would be how many goals Brighton would score as they continued to create chances, with Foderingham denying Ansu Fati and Buonanotte shooting wide.
But whether it’s down to the gruelling nature of competing in Europe for the first time or the draining confidence amid a five-game winless run, Brighton became more passive as the game wore on.
De Zerbi became increasingly animated as he sensed his side beginning to drift – and he boiled over when Dahoud was shown a straight red card for an ugly tackle on Osborn.
It only took Sheffield United another five minutes to score the equaliser, with Webster seeing Bogle’s drilled cross fly off his outstretched boot, past Jason Steele and into his own net.
Bogle should have added a goal to his assist when he was played in by Cameron Archer just four minutes later but dragged his shot wide.
Brighton saw a couple of flimsy penalty claims waved away in the closing stages – adding to the anger of De Zerbi, who was booked – but they will rue failing to build on their lead during a dominant first half.
De Zerbi: We’re in an unlucky period
De Zerbi – who admitted Dahoud deserved his red card – was left disappointed by his team’s inability to wrap up the win when they had 11 players, telling Sky Sports: “There were two games – one game until the red card and one with 10 players.
“In the first one, we deserved to win with more goals. For our mistakes, the result was only 1-0. The second part of the game, we conceded a goal from one shot. It’s a bad and unlucky period.
“Before the red card, we had a lot of chances to score the second and third goal. But if we don’t close the game, we have to fight until the end. With 10 players, I think we could defend better. I didn’t like it because we lost order.”
Analysis: De Zerbi frustrated as dropped points mount
Sky Sports’ Joe Shread:
The remarkable progress De Zerbi has overseen at Brighton in just over a year in charge makes it easy to forget that the manager failed to win any of his first five games in charge.
A period of instability was understandable as the Italian moved from Shakhtar Donetsk to replace Graham Potter mid-season, and it was quickly overcome as his methods took hold.
Those methods led Brighton into Europe but, as many have done before them, the south-coast side are now finding that balancing the demands of Premier League and European football are easier said than done.
Surrendering their lead against Sheffield United means Brighton are now without a league win for the longest period of De Zerbi’s time in charge. At their best, the Seagulls would have had the game wrapped up at half-time – but in their current form, they offered their visitors a route back.
Another worry for De Zerbi will be that Brighton are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League. In fact, they are now the only side since Liverpool in 1966/67 to both score and concede in their first 12 top-flight fixtures.
There’s work for the manager to do as his players head off for yet another international break.
Heckingbottom: We’ve got to be satisfied with point
Heckingbottom was pleased with Sheffield United’s performance as they picked up their first away points of the season, telling Sky Sports: “We’ve got to be satisfied having gone behind against a good team.
“Although we were disappointed with the goal, I think they caused us problems for the first half of the first half.
“We gradually got into the game and got to grips with them in possession. It was a really good second half from us.”
Opta stats: Own goals helping Blades’ cause
- After beating Wolves and drawing against Brighton, Sheffield United have avoided defeat in back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time since July 2020 under Chris Wilder (a run of four – W3 D1).
- Three of Sheffield United’s 10 goals in the Premier League this season have been own goals (Jordan Pickford, Antonee Robinson and Adam Webster), with no side benefitting from more own goals so far this term (3).
- This was Brighton’s 240th Premier League match and only the second time they’ve both scored an own goal (Adam Webster) and had a player sent off (Mahmoud Dahoud) in the same game.
- Facundo Buonanotte (18) assisted Simon Adingra’s (21) opener for Brighton – only the third time two players aged 21 or under have combined for a Premier League goal for the Seagulls, after Alexis Mac Allister and Aaron Connolly in October 2020 (vs Crystal Palace) and Julio Enciso and Levi Colwill in May 2023 (vs Manchester City).
After the international break, Brighton are back in action on Saturday November 25 when they travel to Nottingham Forest; kick-off 3pm.
Sheffield United are also in action on Saturday November 25 when they host Bournemouth; kick-off 3pm.