Alireza Jahanbakhsh said he has started 2020 “in the best way possible” after his spectacular overhead kick earned Brighton an unlikely point against Chelsea at the Amex Stadium.
The Iranian substitute, who scored his first goal for the club on Saturday, brought the home support to their feet in the 84th minute with an early contender for goal of the month.
“When I was about to go on, I had a feeling I could have an impact on the game,” he told Match of the Day.
“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.
“It has been a really tough time for me. I have been training well and working hard to get my chance. Luckily, it has gone the way I wanted.
“2019 didn’t go as well as I wanted. I tried to end the year as well as I could and I’ve started 2020 in the best way possible.”
Cesar Azpilicueta gave the Blues the lead with his third goal of the season when he fired in from close range after Tammy Abraham’s shot was blocked by Aaron Mooy.
Brighton’s attacking threat was largely nullified by Chelsea’s defence, although aside from the goals they produced the clearest chances – both thwarted by the brilliance of keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Spaniard produced a one-handed stop to deny Aaron Connolly and then saved Neal Maupay’s low drive with his feet.
The point extends fourth-placed Chelsea’s advantage over Manchester United in fifth to five points. Brighton move up a place to 13th, above Burnley on goal difference.
Big blow for Lampard’s side
This result is another setback for Frank Lampard and his side, who looked assured of an eighth league win on the road this season.
Prior to Jahanbakhsh’s goal his defence had suffocated Brighton’s attack.
Having been accused of being sloppy at times this season, Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rudiger, Reece James and skipper Azpilicueta were at their dogged best – rarely allowing an opposition ball to find its way into the six-yard area.
Youth graduate James shone the brightest, and manager Lampard has a potential diamond. Aside from providing support for his centre-backs, the 20-year-old was exceptional as an attacking force down the right.
Brighton’s Dan Burn will not want to face him too soon having left the pitch with a fractured collarbone in the 22nd minute following a collision with the England Under-21 player.
The Blues, however, were as poor as Brighton in attack, and keeper Mat Ryan had less to do than his opposite number. The only time he was called into action in the second half was to make a routine low save from Christian Pulisic.
Jahanbakhsh steals the headlines again
Tears of joy to a look a disbelief – what a week it has been for Jahanbakhsh.
A lack of first-team opportunities had frustrated the Iranian since he made a £17m move from AZ Alkmaar in July 2018, so the outpouring of emotion when he opened his Brighton account against Bournemouth last weekend came as no surprise.
Manager Graham Potter did not reward the 26-year-old winger with another start, but having watched his other attackers fail to make much of a dent in the Chelsea defence he threw on Jahanbakhsh in the 68th minute.
Connolly came close to beating Arrizabalaga with a low drive before Jahanbakhsh tried the more unconventional method and, with his back to goal, he found the Chelsea bottom right with a superb acrobatic effort.
Man of the match – Reece James (Chelsea)
‘Lack of consistency is a concern’ – reaction
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard: “It was frustrating for different reasons.
“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 the game off.
“We allowed them to stay in the game. In the end it was a wonder goal but we were lucky not to lose the game.
“In the end, the tactics matched up for both teams but they were better than us. We have to take that on the chin.
“[The lack of consistency] is a concern. It’s something we absolutely have to look at.
“We have to look at the game today. It’s a point, but I’m not happy with the performance.”
Brighton manager Graham Potter: “I thought our play was really brave and we got our reward.
“Everyone is delighted for Jahanbakhsh. He’s worked so hard and waited so long, and to have his freshness off the bench was the thinking and he popped 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.”
Brighton’s super subs – the stats
- Brighton earned their first ever point in a league game against Chelsea in what was their 10th match against them.
- This was Chelsea’s first away Premier League draw this season – the Blues had won seven and lost three of their 10 previous games on the road this term.
- Chelsea have scored more goals in 11 Premier League away games this season (25) than they managed on the road in the whole of 2018-19 (24).
- Azpilicueta has scored three goals in his last 11 games in all competitions for Chelsea, as many as he had in his previous 118.
- Jahanbakhsh became the fifth different Brighton player to score a Premier League goal as a substitute this season, more than any other side in the competition.
- Despite only coming on as a 68th-minute substitute, no Brighton player had more shots (three) or created more chances (three) than goalscorer Jahanbakhsh.
Brighton are at home to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Saturday (15:01 GMT) and the following day Chelsea host Nottingham Forest in the competition (14:01 GMT).
Fan groups from Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have called for support from Europe to demand Uefa improve access to major finals.
The four clubs contested the Champions League and Europa League finals last season but issues around ticket prices and travel prompted heavy criticism.
The fan groups hope their six-point proposal wins approval by Football Supporters Europe (FSE) on Saturday.
FSE represents fans across Europe and can take the proposals to Uefa.
Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly Supporters’ Union, Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust and Chelsea Supporters Trust believe support from FSE is vital in trying to create change.
The groups say “supporters deserve much better when the finals are played”.
What are the six proposals?
- Allocations: 80% of the total number of tickets for the finals should be made available to the supporters of the two competing teams (40% each) with the remaining 20% to be for sponsors, the football family, key stakeholders and a small general sale or ballot.
- Affordability: Pricing for the finals should be fair and affordable, with at least 45% of general admission tickets priced at the lowest category of 70 euros (2019 prices). There could be a stretch pricing policy so there is a choice for fans.
- Capacity: Only stadiums with sufficiently large capacities should be selected. This would allow more tickets to be made available for the fans of both teams as well as the football family. It is proposed the ideal capacity for a Champions League final is in the region of 75,000 or greater, and for the Europa League final in the region of 55,000 or greater.
- Accessibility and facilities: Any stadium considered must have the highest standards on accessibility for people with disabilities including travel access to the stadium. Any stadium considered must also have sufficient food and drink outlets and washrooms for all supporters, the ability to operate an e-ticketing system and not have been subject to a Uefa charge for treatment of fans or crowd management within the last 24 months at the time of selection.
- Infrastructure: Final venues should be cities with excellent transport links, including capacity to deal with many additional charter flights and, ideally, good rail links to other cities and airports within reasonable travel distance. There should also be bed space capacity to deal with an extremely high number of visitors.
- Equality: Host countries should apply no discrimination of any kind to any player or to supporters who wish to travel to the final. Countries staging finals should guarantee to abide by a human rights and equality policy that includes ensuring no discrimination or restriction on entry is applied to any player or supporter.
Liverpool secured a Champions League final win over Tottenham in Madrid on 1 June, while Chelsea claimed the Europa League with victory over Arsenal in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 29 May.
In the build-up to the finals, supporters’ groups told BBC Sport they would raise issues fans were facing early in the next season rather than wait to see how teams reaching the finals in 2019-20 were treated.
Liverpool and Tottenham were given 33,286 of the 68,000 tickets for the Madrid final, with tickets appearing on resale website Stubhub priced from 3,450 euros (£3,012).
Arsenal and Chelsea shared just 12,000 of 68,700 seats for their final, with fans highly critical of the logistical difficulties involved with getting to Baku.