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).
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says his side do not have to compete with Manchester City’s style as the two clubs battle at the top of the Premier League.
The Reds were not at their attacking best at Chelsea on Sunday but earned a 2-1 win to maintain their five-point lead over City at the top.
Pep Guardiola’s side, meanwhile, swept aside Watford 8-0 on Saturday.
“This type of football not a lot of teams can play,” said Klopp.
“But we play in our way, we try to win football games.
“In the end we need to get the points, there is no competition in technical things, it is about the points.”
Klopp’s title pace-setters looked on course to win in comfort as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s magnificent free-kick and Roberto Firmino’s header gave them complete control at the interval.
Chelsea, who had been denied an equaliser when Cesar Azpilicueta’s close-range effort was ruled out for offside by VAR, were in no mood to capitulate and made Liverpool fight every inch of the way to maintain that perfect record.
Tammy Abraham had chances to increase his tally of seven goals this season, particularly when he was denied by Liverpool keeper Adrian when clean through in the first half, but it was left to N’Golo Kante to set up a grandstand finish with a superb strike with 19 minutes to play.
Liverpool, however, held on, surviving missed chances from Michy Batshuayi and Mason Mount, to take the three points.
“It’s a difficult place to come, it’s a while ago that we won here. It’s a big win,” Klopp added.
“The boys did really well, they fought really hard. I don’t think there is any other way to win here. It’s a big win.”
Liverpool bandwagon rolls on
Liverpool remain unstoppable in their Premier League duel with Manchester City after one of those victories all potential champions will need to secure if they are to claim the big prize at the end of the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have made a habit of unleashing an attacking blitz on opponents in a remarkable run of only one league loss since the start of last season, their winning sequence now extended to 15 games.
This was totally different.
Liverpool may have looked to have been on cruise control with that interval advantage, but Chelsea were always in this game and pressed the league leaders right until the final whistle.
They were far below their best, were more sloppy than usual and on occasions looked jaded – but they still emerged victorious from what is traditionally one of the most hazardous away assignments on the calendar.
Over the course of a long campaign, a season Liverpool will hope will end their 30-year wait for the title, it is victories on days such as this that will be vital, if not more so, than the days when opponents are blown away.
Klopp’s delight at the final whistle, in contrast to some of his expressions of fury during the game, said it all.
This was a crucial victory. Liverpool’s bandwagon rolls on.
Chelsea and Lampard can take heart
Chelsea have still to win at home in the Premier League and Champions League this season, and no defeat by Liverpool is anything other than an acutely painful experience.
And yet, despite this loss coming hard on the heels of the home defeat by Valencia in their opening Champions League group game, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard will take great comfort and confidence from the performance of his team.
This is a new Chelsea, leaning heavily on youngsters such as Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Abraham, and being built in a new style by Lampard.
When Liverpool went two up through Firmino’s header after poor marking at a free-kick, the goal coming moments after Azpilicueta’s apparent equaliser had been overruled by VAR, it would have been easy for Chelsea’s heads to drop.
Nothing could have been further from the truth as they pressed and pressurised Liverpool until the final whistle before receiving a warm and appreciative ovation from the Chelsea supporters.
Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga may have kept them in it with a magnificent save from Firmino but Chelsea, driven by the magnificent Kante, were left cursing those late missed opportunities for Batshuayi and Mount that could have earned them a point.
No Chelsea defeat is easy to take, especially against Liverpool, but this was a performance that will give Lampard hope and encouragement.
Man of the Match – N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
We have to carry on – what they said
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard: “Performance-wise we were the better team. We had more energy in our game, character and spirit. That’s why the crowd applauded at the end. Let’s take this forward.”
On VAR: “We have to get on with it. It is a sad thing for the celebration and the moment but if we are looking for correct decisions that is where we are at. It changes the atmosphere in the crowd, on the pitch. We are slightly deflated and they get a boost. We deserved to be level at that point.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “The first half was hard work. It is about momentum in games like this and I think we got that in the first half. We scored two wonderful goals and we could have scored directly after half time two more. We deserved the three points, it is difficult to win here.”
“We are only here. Chelsea, six matches in. We haven’t won anything domestic apart from games so we have to carry on. We have to be ready for each opponent. They are all waiting and want to give us a knock, rightly so, but we have to be ready to do what we have to do.”
Reds closing in on City’s record – the stats
- Chelsea have conceded 13 goals in their six Premier League matches this season – their most after six league matches of a season since 1978-79 (also 13), when they went on to finish bottom of the First Division.
- Liverpool have won consecutive Premier League matches against Chelsea for the first time since a run of four wins between November 2010 and May 2012.
- Liverpool have won their last 15 league matches – the only team with a longer winning run in top-flight history is Manchester City (18 between August and December 2017).
- Chelsea have lost consecutive home matches in all competitions for the first time since April 2014, when they lost against Sunderland and Atlético Madrid.
- Jurgen Klopp managed his 150th Premier League game today – he has registered 92 wins in those games, with only José Mourinho (105) winning more in his first 150 matches in the competition.
- Frank Lampard is only the second Chelsea manager to fail to win any of his first four home matches in all competitions (W0 D2 L2), after Bobby Campbell in 1988.
- Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Liverpool have scored 34 goals from set-piece situations in the Premier League – seven more than any other team.
- Chelsea have failed to win any of their opening three home Premier League matches in a season for only the second time, also doing so in 2001-02 during Frank Lampard’s first season there as a player.
Attention turns to the League Cup as Liverpool head to League One side MK Dons on Wednesday (19:45 BST), while Chelsea host League Two Grimsby on the same day (19:45 BST).