Brighton & Hove Albion recovered from two goals down to claim a hard-earned 2-2 draw against Fulham at the Amex Stadium, writes James Hilsum for brightonandhovealbion.com
After a saved penalty from Pascal Gross, strikes from Andre Schurrle and Aleksandar Mitrovic put the Cottagers 2-0 ahead, but Glenn Murray’s brace, including a goal from the penalty spot, gave the Seagulls a share of the spoils.
Chris Hughton made two changes to the side that lost 1-0 away at Liverpool last Saturday, as Lewis Dunk and Gross returned to the starting line-up.
Albion began brightly, as Solly March weaved his way through the Fulham defence only to see his subsequent effort blocked, as Hughton’s men continued their fast start to the game.
But Fulham had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when Luciano Vietto and Schurrle linked up well to set up a chance for Mitrovic, but the Serbian headed over from close range.
Albion missed their chance to break the deadlock with 24 minutes played, when Murray was brought down by Vietto and Gross saw his resulting penalty pushed around the post by Marcus Bettinelli.
The Gross-Murray combination was back in action again from the subsequent corner, as Murray’s glancing header from the German’s set-piece drifted just past the far post.
Despite all of Albion’s positive play, Fulham took the lead courtesy of Schurrle, as the winger latched onto Jean Michael-Seri’s through-ball and rifled a finish past Mathew Ryan just one minute shy of the interval.
Dennis Odoi made a surging run from defence at the start of the second half and won a free-kick in a promising position for the Cottagers, but Schurrle didn’t add to his tally with a free-kick that drifted harmlessly over the bar.
Propper created a brilliant chance to Albion moments later when he played March through on goal, but the winger saw his right-footed effort go agonisingly over the bar.
The Seagulls were dealt a sucker punch just past the hour mark – Mitrovic got the better of Dunk and saw his first shot saved by Ryan, before he fired home on the rebound to double Fulham’s advantage.
Albion had a chance to halve the deficit barely a minute later after Shane Duffy met Anthony Knockaert’s in-swinging set-piece, but the Irishman headed wide.
Hughton’s men got a foothold in the game with 67 minutes played when Knockaert drove forward to pick out Murray, who coolly slotted the ball under Bettinelli to make it 2-1.
Buoyed by the goal, Albion drove forward once again through March, and the winger picked out substitute Yves Bissouma, but the Malian’s effort from distance went over the target.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Jurgen Locadia were introduced for the final 15 minutes, and the pair combined well, as the Dutchman’s header from Jahanbakhsh’s cross was saved by Bettinelli.
But with time running out, the Seagulls had a chance to restore parity to the scoreline when Mitrovic was penalised for a handball inside the box and Murray successfully converted the penalty with 84 minutes played to avoid a potentially harsh defeat.
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton praised his players for their reaction to going two goals behind at the Amex Stadium, and believes a draw was the least the Seagulls deserved against Fulham this afternoon.
Glenn Murray’s second-half brace levelled the game after goals from Andre Schurrle and Aleksandar Mitrovic put the Cottagers 2-0 ahead, and Hughton was pleased with the character shown by his players.
He said, “I’m delighted to get a draw out of the game, it’s nothing less than we deserved. When you go 2-0 down at home against a very good side at keeping possession, you have to be grateful for what you’ve got.
“The frustration is that for 20 minutes we were excellent. We played really well and had a few chances. If we’d scored in that period of time, they would have been on the back-foot.
“We got the penalty and if we score it, that momentum continues. But the penalty save lifted them and deflated us a little bit. They got more hope from that period of the game.
“But I have to give our lads credit – after they scored their second goal, our reaction was excellent and we might have even won the game towards the end.”
Hughton made a double change after Murray’s first strike, as the Seagulls went in search of an equaliser, and the Albion boss explained the formation change that helped Albion pile on the pressure.
“You have to try and do it in a controlled way, because if you go gung-ho at that stage, with the system they were playing and the players they’ve got, they’ll go on to get a third goal.
“But you’ve got to be positive. We decided to go 4-4-2 with [Alireza] Jahanbakhsh on the right-hand side and we dropped [Yves] Bissouma in.
“In a structured way, we went for it. You need that little bit of fortune and we had that with the second penalty. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have no doubt it was a penalty.
“Our endeavours in the game forced that, and we got nothing short of what we deserved.”
ALBION: Ryan; Bruno, Dunk, Duffy, Bong; Knockaert (Jahanbakhsh 74), Stephens, Propper (Locadia 74), March; Gross (Bissouma 60); Murray.
SUBS NOT USED: Button (GK), Balogun, Bernardo, Kayal.