Albion stayed unbeaten at the hands of Leeds United in the Premier League after the 2-2 draw at Elland Road, but, like last season, came away from Yorkshire frustrated after having to settle for a draw from a winning position.
In the absence of a decisive outcome, most of the media reports concentrated on the Leeds winger Jack Harrison, who had an assist and also scored for both sides. But Aaron Bower contemplated a result that satisfied neither side in The Observer.
“The notion of a draw in the Premier League being a good or bad result usually depends on which side of the fence you sit and where your season is heading,” he wrote. “But here, as both the Leeds and Brighton players received deserved applause from their supporters after an entertaining draw at Elland Road, this had the distinct feeling of a missed opportunity for both sides.
“Brighton, who also had chances to secure victory and enhance their quest to take Roberto De Zerbi’s eye-catching brand of football on to the continent next season, may see this as two points dropped given that they led twice only to be pulled back by magnificent strikes by Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison.
“In the end, this was probably a fair outcome even if it doesn’t do a great deal for the end-of-season goals both these sides possess. De Zerbi, much like Gracia, felt it was a result his side could have improved upon. [He] would have scarcely believed his side were only level at half-time.”
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Sam Dalling of the Sunday Telegraph agreed. “Elland Road could have turned nasty. No, it would have turned nasty. Boos rang again with Brighton ahead and toying with the hosts, stretching them in every direction like putty.
“And then, Harrison’s moment. A quickly taken corner caught the visitors out, likewise the presence of a second ball on the pitch. Taking zero notice, Harrison dropped his shoulder and curled a glorious effort past a fully-horizontal Jason Steele.
“Brighton will consider this a missed opportunity. They controlled the game, were slick and brimming with quality. They were not, though, clinical enough. Alexis Mac Allister was left virtually alone in the six yard box to head them in front but even a World Cup winner should not be immune to criticism: he should have had at least another. And prior to Harrison’s leveller, substitute Danny Welbeck spurned a glorious opportunity.”
Ian Whittell joined the consensus in the Sunday Times. “Roberto De Zerbi said his players had performed ‘like lions’ at Elland Road, but they still ended up throwing away two points to halt their momentum and dent their hopes of European qualification.
“Leeds United salvaged a point in a game Brighton largely dominated. The goal that cost the away side victory was not without controversy as Jack Harrison, having scored an own goal that put Brighton ahead for the second time, made amends from a corner which, the Brighton players argued, was taken too quickly, while two balls were on the field.
“Brighton scored the opening goal when Pascal Gross turned Marc Roca too easily on the right, delivering a cross which Kaoru Mitoma headed across goal for Alexis Mac Allister to score.
“Brighton’s second was deserved, when Mitoma skipped past Luke Ayling and delivered a lethal cross which Harrison could only put through his own net under pressure from Solly March. Mac Allister and the substitute Danny Welbeck, twice, missed glorious chances that would have put the game to bed.”
Thank you for your support on the road and from afar yesterday, Albion fans! 👏 pic.twitter.com/3E3wkgwcwQ— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) March 12, 2023
Aadam Patel contrasted both Leeds and Albion past and present in the Mail on Sunday. “Pre-match, Lucas Radebe was welcomed by the Elland Road faithful where he reminisced about the days when this mighty club played European football. ‘The Chief’ recalled his goal against Spartak Moscow in 1999 when under David O’Leary, Leeds reached the semi-finals of the then UEFA Cup.
“Back then, Brighton were still in the Third Division of the Football League (now League Two) yet it was the Seasiders with the genuine European ambitions here. They went into the match just seven points off a Champions League spot with three games in hand.
“De Zerbi’s side play with such assuredness and freedom and it took little over 20 minutes for the visiting supporters in the corner of the John Charles West Stand to start dishing out the ‘Oles’.
“Pervis Estupinan’s dangerous cross was nearly turned in by Evan Ferguson and rather weirdly, the atmosphere was subdued whenever Brighton had possession - almost as if there was an acceptance around the ground that you try and press this Brighton side at your own risk.
“Leeds were content with sitting back and just after the half-hour mark came the inevitable breakthrough. And a wonderful goal too. Lewis Dunk’s ball in behind found Pascal Gross, who toyed with Marc Roca before dinking in a perfect delivery to the back post where Kaoru Mitoma outjumped Luke Ayling and set up Alexis Mac Allister for a simple finish.
“And then came the boos. Elland Road was getting restless. It was around this time when Ian Dennis, on solo commentary duty for BBC Radio 5 Live, mentioned the late Norman Hunter and how the Leeds United legend would have been desperately urging on someone to make a challenge and get stuck into Brighton.
“And just like that, it came. A bit of fight. A bit of risk. Jack Harrison pressed and won the ball off Veltman and then with a bit of luck, Patrick Bamford’s strike took a deflection off Adam Webster and crashed in off the underside of the bar, past Jason Steele. It wasn’t quite Tony Yeboah but Leeds needed it badly.
“Neither side could find a winner. A point gained for Leeds? No doubt, with a bit of luck and a moment of quality. Two dropped for Brighton? You’d probably say so.”
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In the Yorkshire Post Stuart Rayner produced a colourful report that began: “Leeds United put their supporters through such a see-saw of emotions, it was a surprise they were not throwing up by full-time. After 90 minutes of torture, they were able to settle for a 2-2 draw which was hard to get your head around.
“Given the season Brighton and Hove Albion are having a point could never be a bad thing, even at a stage of the season where wins are badly needed. So to claim one after going behind twice was something to be proud of, even if large passages of Leeds play were disappointing.
“They made their fans uninspired, then angry, then defiant, deflated, believing again and eventually satisfied if not exactly ecstatic.
“Jack Harrison summed up an afternoon. Generally out of sorts, he managed to kick-start his team into life by creating the first equaliser and win them a point with the second, but only after being debited with an own goal in between.
“It was that sort of head-spinning game, not always full of the highest quality but bursting with the levels of excitement that makes Match of the Day so unmissable ... usually. For the first 41 minutes it was as if someone had forgotten to turn Elland Road on. At that stage, the crowd was starting to go beyond flat, into restless.
“World Cup winner Mac Allister had it far too easy to head his side in front. It was in keeping with Leeds' whole approach, opting to stand off Brighton's centre-backs and goalkeeper rather than get in their faces. Tactically it had its merits, but Leeds were so languid it was annoying their supporters.
“When Brighton's defenders passed it around unmolested for the umpteenth time, this time in the Whites half, after 38 minutes, the earlier groans turned into full-throated boos. Then three minutes later, the switch was flicked.”
Mark Walker of the Press Association also referred to an unusual Elland Road atmosphere and credited the Albion’s away following: “It is unusual to hear the away fans at Elland Road and amid chants of ‘you’re going down with the Bournemouth’, Brighton emerged as the more likely side to score after a scrappy opening 15 minutes.
“The home crowd’s sombre mood was reflected in their side’s nervy start as mis-placed passes at the back invited more Brighton pressure.”
But by the end, it was the Albion fans who had reason to be subdued, as the BBC website explained. “Twice on Saturday, Brighton were within a point of fifth-placed Liverpool, with two games in hand to boot, but they failed to keep hold of their lead on both occasions.
“Not for the first time, the Seagulls were guilty of wasteful finishing as they created the clearer-cut chances but needed a helping hand from Leeds to convert one of their two goals.
“But their two goals here mean they have already surpassed their highest tally in a Premier League season by reaching 45, further evidence of the progress Roberto De Zerbi's side are making.”