Brighton 2-0 Brentford: Hosts up to ninth after first Premier League win since September thanks to Leandro Trossard’s sublime lob and a thumping strike by Neal Maupay
- Brighton claimed their first Premier League win in 12 matches on Boxing Day
- Leandro Trossard’s sublime lob set Brighton on their way in the 34th minute
- Neal Maupay curled in a wonderful second for home side just before the break
No better day of the year for fresh starts and rediscovering old, rather healthier habits. Not after the feast and festivities of weeks gone by. Or in Brighton’s case, the famine of recent months.
After Graham Potter’s side won at Brentford back in early September, they sat fourth in the Premier League – one point off top spot.
The more ambitious among their supporters allowed themselves to ponder European dreams.
Brighton forward Leandro Trossard scored the first goal in the 34th minute
BRIGHTON (4-1-2-1-2): Sanchez 7; Lamptey 7, Webster 6.5, Burn 7, Cucurella 7; Lallana 7 (Gross 84, 6); Mwepu 8, Mac Allister 7 (Alzate 84); Moder 7; Maupay 7, Trossard 7
Subs not used: Scherpen, March, Richards, Leonard, Turns, Ferguson
Goals: Trossard 34, Maupay 42
Manager: Graham Potter 7
BRENTFORD (3-5-2): Fernandez 5; Pinnock 6.5, Jansson 6, Bech Sorensen 6; Canos 6, Baptiste 7, Norgaard 6.5, Jensen 5 (Onyeka 45, 6), Thompson 6 (Ghoddos 66, 6); Mbeumo 5 (Wissa 41 6), Toney 6.5
Subs not used: Forss, Peart-Harris, Bidstrup, Stevens, Cox
Bookings: Bech Sorensen, Norgaard, Toney
Manager: Thomas Frank 6
Referee: Darren England 6.5
But even the most cynical could not have imagined that a routine-ish win like this could taste so sweet, so soon.
But that’s what happens when new habits take hold. And how Brighton became hooked to falling just short.
Never before in the Premier League had they gone 11 consecutive games without victory.
Never can it be too soon to break that duck. So no wonder they enjoyed this one. And perhaps no wonder Potter’s side made harder work of it than perhaps they should.
They were cruising at half time, after all, thanks to goals from Leandro Trossard and ex-Brentford striker Neal Maupay, who netted a brilliant strike from the edge of the box.
But then on the hour Brentford decided to turn up and start banging on the door. Thanks only to a combination of desperate saves and brave blocks, Brighton just about held firm.
It turns out they hadn’t forgotten how to win after all.
By late last night, the leftovers of a Boxing Day feast, these were two sides without much meat on the bone.
Brighton forward Neal Maupay scored the second goal against his former club
Maupay curled in a wonderful second just before the break for the home side
The absence of captain Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy and midfielder Yves Bissouma left Brighton looking brittle at their spine, while Brentford were without the influential pair of Vitaly Janelt – who tested positive for Covid – and Rico Henry.
Frank could at least count on Toney from the start for the first time in four matches. Brentford are immediately a more dangerous side with him at their heart so it was no wonder that the striker had a hand in an early chance for the visitors. The only surprise? It was a miscue that nearly did the damage.
From Mathias Jensen’s fizzed pass into the box, Toney scuffed an effort towards goal. It found its way first to Christian Norgaard, and then to Shandon Baptiste, whose shot was deflected over. That came inside the opening 10 minutes and was already a second warning for Brighton.
Even earlier, Dan Burn did not know that Bryan Mbeumo had strayed offside when he made a last-ditch clearance from the forward’s lifted finish.
Brighton defender Marc Cucurella (C) heads the ball off the line to deny Ethan Pinnock
Brentford knew all about the risks of fluffed lines. Back in September, Trossard stole three points for Brighton after they survived several wasted chances in West London.
Here again, he was the architect of pain, sparking a seven-minute spell that left Frank’s side scratching their heads once more.
Brighton had grown into this game and were beginning to strangle Brentford as half-time approached.
Still, few danger signs rang out when Enock Mwepu turned into space in midfield. Or when Trossard sprinted to meet his clipped through-ball.
Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez produced two vital saves in the second-half
It seemed Brentford goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez would sweep up when he raced to the edge of his box. That is until Trossard stuck out a leg to hook the ball goalwards and leave the keeper stranded.
A moment of genius or a fortuitous first touch? Only Trossard knows. Only Brentford might care.
But before long, they had even greater concerns. Two minutes after Mbeumo came off – and headed gingerly for the tunnel – they were staring down the barrel.
Graham Potter’s side claimed their first Premier League win in 12 games
This time, Brentford were cut apart by Jakub Moder. The Poland international drove down the left before cutting across the box and finding Maupay, who struck a vicious effort into the top corner.
No celebration from the striker against his former club.
Around him, though, a huge sigh of relief as Brighton deigned to believe this dry run might be over at last.
Brighton defender Dan Burn directed a header against the bar in the first-half