Brighton 1 – 1 Fulham. Joao Palhinha netted the equaliser as Fulham fought back from a goal down to draw at Brighton and leave the hosts without a win in four Premier League games.
Evan Ferguson gave Brighton a deserved lead as the home side put in a commanding display in the opening 45 minutes at the Amex Stadium.
But as the rain poured, Brighton lost their way in the second half and Portugal international Palhinha made them pay after possession was cheaply gifted to Fulham deep in opposition territory.
Brighton regained control after being pegged back but Fulham defended stoutly, restricting the hosts to just one good opening when substitute Ansu Fati was denied by Bernd Leno.
The Seagulls are now seventh in the table, while Fulham remain 14th.
Brighton set the tone from the first whistle, stroking the ball around confidently and dominating possession as they attempted to bait Fulham to step into areas where they might be exposed.
It was not long until the chances started to flow with Simon Adingra, Kaoru Mitoma and Carlos Balbena all setting their sights towards goal.
Eventually, the pressure paid off as 19-year-old striker Ferguson found space on the edge of Fulham’s box before calmly curling into the bottom left corner.
Ferguson showed signs last season that he was up to the task of being Brighton’s talisman, scoring six goals in the Premier League, and the Republic of Ireland international has continued to deliver this term.
Captain Lewis Dunk was inches away from doubling the hosts’ advantage early in the second half but his free-kick rattled off the crossbar.
However, Brighton were guilty of squandering chances – having created 18 over the 90 minutes – and boss Roberto de Zerbi will look back at this as a game where his side threw away two points.
The Seagulls are now without a win in four league games, drawing two and losing two – their longest run without victory since five winless matches when De Zerbi first took charge in October 2022.
After the high of beating Ajax 2-0 in the Europa League on Thursday, the Italian made six changes to the starting line-up for Fulham’s visit – but fatigue and rotation could be starting to take their toll.
Fulham’s chances were fleeting throughout the game and they did not register a shot on target until the second half as they struggled to match Brighton’s tempo.
Just five teams, including each of the three newly promoted sides, have scored fewer than the Cottagers’ nine this campaign and they appear to be lacking a focal point to their attack.
The summer exit of last season’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has joined Saudi side Al-Hilal, is being sorely felt.
Raul Jimenez, signed from Wolves as a replacement for the Serbia international, was brought back into the starting 11 for the trip to Brighton but is yet to open his account for the club.
The Mexico striker has not scored in his past 32 Premier League appearances, a run that stretches back to his time at Molineux.
But Palhinha stepped up when it counted, spinning on the edge of the box and firing Fulham on to level terms to mark his 50th appearance for the club in style.
It is the second time the Portugal midfielder has scored in 2023-24, having also salvaged a point with a late strike in a 2-2 draw at Arsenal.
Fulham looked ready to kick on after the equaliser, with substitute Rodrigo Muniz testing goalkeeper Jason Steele with a clever flick of the heel as he met a low cross.
But they soon fell back into their shell, sitting back and soaking up pressure as they were seemingly satisfied with a share of the points.
It is now five games without a win for the Cottagers on the road, having only recorded one victory on their travels all season, although Marco Silva may well regard a point at Brighton as a positive.
Source – BBC