Alireza Jahanbakhsh's goal for the ages helps Brighton stop Chelsea in their tracks
Frank Lampard says his team weren't ruthless enough and were lucky not to lose at the Amex
The first day of the New Year offered a goal for the ages. For Brighton and Hove Albion, a result too.
Having lost all nine of their previous league meetings with Chelsea, they belatedly broke the most unwanted of records. The longest such streak in English league history was cast aside late on at the Amex, when Alireza Jahanbakhsh rose from the bench to climb further and earn Brighton a draw.
With 84 minutes on the clock, and his side 1-0 down, the Iranian met Lewis Dunk’s headed pass with an outrageous overhead kick. It left Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal rooted to the spot. It left those inside the stadium clutching heads in disbelief.
Until Saturday without a goal for the club since joining in July last year, Jahanbakhsh had two in four days. After waiting 27 matches for his first, his second arrived in the 28th. Brighton, meanwhile, had earned a point, well deserved for their second-half fight-back. So, too, for Graham Potter’s tactical acumen.
He tweaked his team at half-time, bringing on Aaron Connelly for Yves Bissouma, and later, with Jahanbakhsh’s introduction. To his delight, it reaped rewards.
“It is an amazing feeling,” Jahanbakhsh said. “When I was about to go on, I had a feeling I could have an impact. When I saw the ball, I just tried to hit it as hard as I could and the bicycle kick was the only option. I'm going to watch it a couple more times.”
Clearly, it warranted the rewind. It could have been even better, in fact, had Arrizabalaga not denied Jahanbakhsh an assist by saving brilliantly from Neil Maupay in injury-time.
Still, a draw felt somewhat like a victory for the man who secured it.
"It has been a really tough time for me,” Jahanbakhsh said. "I've been training well and working hard to get my chance. Luckily, it has gone the way I wanted.
"I'm very glad to help the team win points. I couldn't start the year any better. [Last year] didn't go as well as I wanted. I've started 2020 in the best way possible."
Chelsea began it with a different feel. So often ruthless on the road – coming into the match, they had won seven of their previous nine away in the league – their top-four target took a dent.
Despite creating chances to lift that to eight, through Christian Pulisic and replacement Callum Hudson-Odoi ultimately they failed to build upon Cezar Azpilicueta’s 10th-minute opener. The Spaniard had prodded home Tammy Abraham’s blocked shot, and perched somewhat surprisingly as the first Premier League scorer of the decade.
Yet Chelsea could not quite annex the Amex.
"Frustrating for different reasons,” manager Frank Lampard said. "In the first half, the game was there to be won. We weren't ruthless enough. We got the goal and we had the possession. But we just didn't kill off the game.
"We allowed them to stay in it. In the end it was a wonder goal, but we were lucky not to lose the game. The tactics matched up for both teams, but they were better than us. We have to take that on the chin.”
Landing one late and full square on the jaw, Brighton bounced back.
“I thought the performance was amazing,” Potter said. "Our play was really brave and we got our reward. Everyone is delighted for Alireza. He's worked so hard and waited so long, and to have his freshness off the bench was the thinking and he pops up with a great strike. He's had to be patient, but he's got qualities and he's getting his reward.
"I'm really proud of the performance. We need to carry that forward and get some more points."
Updated: January 1, 2020 07:29 PM