Not for the first (or last) time, top-six opposition for The Albion meant that Graham Potter’s men were almost an afterthought for writers from the national daily papers in their reports of a match. But the representatives of what used to be known as Fleet Street were unanimous after the 3-1 defeat by Chelsea that the home side deserved better. And they all agreed that Tariq Lamptey was as impressive as any of Frank Lampard’s expensively-assembled squad.
Writers who had probably devoted most of their pre-match homework on Brighton to Ben White and Adam Lallana were suddenly writing about the Seagulls’ speedy right back instead. In the Daily Star, friend of this column Paul Brown suggested that Chelsea’s new signings “were almost upstaged by the one that got away.
“German pair Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were the jewels in the crown of a Chelsea spending spree that will end up topping the £230m mark. But the best player on the pitch was youngster Tariq Lamptey, who set up Leandro Trossard’s equaliser for unlucky Brighton.
“Chelsea sold Lamptey to the Seagulls in January but his pace and delivery from wide right caused them all sorts of problems. And it wasn’t until Kurt Zouma added to an absolutely spectacular strike from Reece James that the points looked safe.”
Barney Ronay waxed lyrical as he set the scene in The Guardian: “On a lovely late-summer night in Falmer, the first fruits of Chelsea’s extravagant close season spending were evident. Timo Werner looked the liveliest part of an initially ponderous, increasingly fluent 3-1 defeat of Brighton, who were impressively slick and a little unlucky.
“Yves Bissouma and Steven Alzate had the better of the early midfield exchanges, right up to the moment Alzate played a horrible pass straight to Jorginho on the edge of the Brighton area. He slipped the ball to Werner, who was tripped by Mat Ryan as he veered in on goal. Jorginho put the penalty away with a bravura little swivel and side-foot, celebrating with a shout.
“It didn’t feel like a moment of ignition exactly; in part because Brighton had been the livelier team to that point. The ground was a striking sight at kick-off, empty stands brilliantly illuminated, powder blue sky fading over the lip of the swooping main stand. And Brighton were impressive either side of Chelsea’s goal, zipping the ball around nicely and finding space on the flanks. Brighton’s entire squad cost somewhere in the region of one headline Chelsea midfield signing, but they continued to look the more settled, orderly team, moving the ball around sweetly and pressing in well-drilled packs.”
In the i paper, Ian Winrow wrote that “Potter was entitled to feel frustrated that his side found themselves behind. Brighton had more than matched their opponents and caused a number of uncomfortable moments for the Chelsea defence, particularly when Leandro Trossard almost found a way through. And Neal Maupay wasted a chance to equalise when he failed to make a clean connection with Lamptey’s excellent cross.”
Henry Winter took up the tale in The Times. “Despite falling behind, Brighton were the better side in the first half, passing and moving. Adam Lallana looked good maneuvering the ball through the final third until frustratingly succumbing to injury and being replaced by Aaron Connolly.
"So it was no complete surprise when Graham Potter’s side equalised eight minutes after the restart. The build-up was good, the finish exceptional. March and Neal Maupay combined on the left, March then worked it inside to Alzate, on to Bissouma, across the edge of Chelsea’s area and out right to Lamptey, who ran at Alonso and Mount before cutting the ball back to Leandro Trossard. The Belgian took a touch, creating the opening, and then his left foot sent the ball flying past Kepa Arrizabalaga, who responded too late. With Chelsea being linked with Rennes’ Édouard Mendy, it was poorly timed by Kepa in every sense.”
Matt Law joined in the praise in the Daily Telegraph. “Lamptey caused Marcos Alonso all kinds of problems and he won the home side a corner that was missed by Kepa Arrizabalaga, but, fortunately for the Spaniard, there was no Brighton player in position to take advantage,” he wrote.
“Lamptey, full of energy and invention, picked up where he left off after the break … and the 19-year-old was involved in Brighton’s 55th-minute equaliser, as he shifted the ball for Leandro Trossard to beat Kepa. The home side were only level for 100 seconds, however, as Chelsea right-back James produced a wonderful driven shot that gave Ryan no chance to restore the visitors’ lead. It was a good night for right-backs, as James, like Lamptey for Brighton, was one of his team’s most potent threats when he surged forwards.
“Lewis Dunk should have headed Brighton level on the hour mark, but, unmarked, he failed to find the target and Zouma wrapped up the victory for Chelsea in fortuitous fashion as he sent a James corner past Ryan with an effort that took a deflection off Adam Webster.”
Tom Barclay of The Sun even suggested that Lamptey’s recent promotion to the England under-21 side might not be the limit of his international chances this season. Tom Barclay Sun
“Before James took centre-stage, it was another right-back made in Chelsea that shone brightest,” he wrote. “Tariq Lamptey left Stamford Bridge for the Amex in January and has been a revelation ever since. Like Werner, his pace is a huge strength but the 19-year-old’s biggest asset is his fearlessness, showing no fear or respect for whoever he comes up against. That certainly was the case with Marcos Alonso here as Lamptey drove at the Spaniard time and time again.
“Even with the enormous strength in depth England have at right-back, Gareth Southgate’s attending No2 Steve Holland could not help but be impressed. And it was Lamptey who laid it back to Trossard before the recently-capped Belgian beautifully found the bottom corner from outside the box.”
On the BBC Sport website, Phil McNulty wrote that “Brighton can take some satisfaction through the pain of a defeat that will leave manager Graham Potter bitterly frustrated.
“The Seagulls acquitted themselves very well and had the game's outstanding performer in former Chelsea right-back Lamptey, who was industrious and creative in a top-class display. And the momentum appeared to be with Brighton when Trossard scored a deserved equaliser - only for them to concede a second within two minutes from James' thunderous finish. Brighton then wasted the best chance of the game when Dunk headed wide and were unable to recover as Chelsea re-established a two-goal lead.”