Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton: Albion defender pockets Wilfried Zaha, Yves Bissouma's absence felt, ice cool Neal Maupay

Brighton snatched a point with the last kick of the game at an extremely volatile away game at fierce rivals Crystal Palace.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 1:31 pm
Joel Veltman didn't give Wilfried Zaha a moments piece last night

Neal Maupay stole the headlines after his 95th minute lob over Vicente Guaita sent Albion fans into raptures, and left Palace fans absolutely fuming.

Albion could have gone top of the league with a win but Graham Potter's men will have to settle for joint second with Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Everton for now, who are all on 13 points from six games.

The Seagulls were off the pace as they were given no time on the ball by a dominant high-intensity pressing display from Palace.

Patrick Viera, a towering figure on the touchline, would have been delighted with his team's performance... right until the final kick of the game.

Enter Neal Maupay.

The Frenchman lobbed Vicente Guaita from just outside the Palace box after getting on the end of a clever ball from Joel Veltman.

That final minute was pure anarchy.

Maupay cupped his ears at the Palace fans in celebration, Albion fans threw blue flares onto the pitch, advertising boards were smashed down, and Graham Potter and his staff went wild on the bench.

94 minutes of below par football for one minute that will live long in the Albion fans' memory. Absolutely joyous.

It was sweet revenge after Palace's smash and grab at The Amex last season when Benteke scored a stunning volley in the 95th minute.

But where was the game won and lost?

Bissouma's absence from Albion's midfield was clear to see. The man is irreplaceable.

As good as Adam Lallana and Pascal Gross are, they cannot offer the same output as Bissouma does in that central defensive midfield role.

What the Malian midfielder offers is dynamism.

His quick burst of pace coupled with physicality allows him to take the ball from his defenders, turn and glide past the opposition, thus breaking the lines and beating the press.

Lallana and Gross are technically very good footballers, but they were unable to do that and get Albion playing on the front foot.

Many times Lallana, Gross, and Steven Alzate would pick the ball up from their defenders but were unable to turn and then forced to go back towards their own goal.

Albion's expansive play out from the back was smothered by swarms of red and blue shirts.

This meant Sanchez was forced to go long from goal kicks. And with two of the smallest men on the pitch in Trossard and Maupay up front, it was easy for Palace to regain possession.

Bissouma's physicality was also missing. That bullishness and dominance was needed in this high octane game.

Albion needed someone who could protect the ball, assert some authority and allow the team to get up the pitch.

Palace Press

The Palace pressing was non-stop for 90 minutes. Conor Gallagher especially was a menace chasing down everything.

The Eagles were effective at stealing the ball off of Brighton but were poor when it came to doing something with their possession high up the pitch.

This meant Brighton's midfielders were dominated, but Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Dan Burn and Robert Sanchez weren't really tested in defence.

Atmosphere

Under the floodlights at a hostile Selhurst Park on a Monday night to stop their rivals going top... Palace were bang up for this.

Albion were under pressure early on and had to take the sting out of the game and get to half-time, which they very nearly did.

Leandro Trossard, however, had other ideas when he gave away a penalty with a clumsy challenge on the stroke of half-time.

Zaha made no mistake from the spot, sending Sanchez the wrong way.

Palace's best player scores before half-time against their rivals in a huge clash.

It was everything you wouldn't want to happen and poured fuel on to the Palace fans' raging fire. Neal Maupay later doused the flames from the ice in his veins.

It really did feel like Albion were destined to lose this game but this team's never say die attitude has been glorious so far this season.

Veltman vs Zaha

This was the most interesting match up. Zaha is the player that gets that Palace crowd off their feet. So to keep him quiet is to keep them quiet(er).

We've seen Veltman do superb jobs before on flair players - Jack Grealish and Villa come to mind from last season.

And he did it again. The Dutchman did an absolute number on Zaha. Crunching tackles, tight man-marking, Zaha wasn't allowed a sniff without being hassled by the dogged Veltman.

He even had the wherewithal to assist Maupay at the end. Best £900,000 bargain I've ever seen.