João Palhinha’s goal secures a draw for Fulham and disappoints Brighton.

Drenched, trembling, and nearly – but not entirely – grinning. These words could describe both Marco Silva and Roberto De Zerbi, who both earned a draw in the south coast match.

Silva must have felt a great sense of satisfaction. After all, he could have been thousands of miles away enjoying the sun and wealth. However, he rejected an offer from Saudi Arabia and instead signed a contract extension with Fulham until 2026.

On days like this, Silva is put to the ultimate test as a manager and he thrives in these situations. He especially enjoys afternoons where a draw is achieved through strategic thinking, perseverance, and a fantastic goal by João Palhinha. It’s worth noting that despite Brighton receiving well-deserved praise over the last 13 months, Silva’s Fulham team has managed to earn four points at the Amex Stadium.

Despite the absence of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham currently have more points compared to this point in the previous season. Manager Silva expressed his desire for continued growth and ambition for the team. He is also realistic, but hopes to make further progress.

De Zerbi, one year after a dominant win against Chelsea that will always be remembered as a defining moment of his tenure at Brighton, saw Evan Ferguson score a well-deserved goal in the first half. Brighton had a strong hold on the game for large portions, but their inability to secure a second goal resulted in them dropping two points. This brought them back down to reality after a successful European match just 72 hours earlier.

“I believe we put on a strong performance, especially considering we played only three days after Ajax,” De Zerbi stated. “Unfortunately, we gave up a goal in a short period of five to seven minutes where we lacked organization and stability. We are disappointed with the outcome, but we can take pride in our overall performance – it was excellent.”

Fulham came to frustrate. They constantly, and sensibly, declined the hosts’ invitation to press. And so Brighton had to pull and stretch, poke and prod. Adam Lallana showed just what a lovely footballer he remains. A shimmy and cross saw Simon Adingra almost poke Brighton into the lead. Bernd Leno got there first. Just.

Evan Ferguson shows his delight after giving Brighton the lead.

Brighton’s goal came when Fulham forward Raúl Jiménez, not counting on Igor Julio’s close attention, was pickpocketed. Julio found Pascal Gross; a man puzzled by the apparent space in front of him – Silva would later bemoan his side’s lack of pre-interval aggression.

Gross eventually looked up and saw Ferguson standing between Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream. It appeared that he was about to make a run, but he was actually just standing there. The pair from Fulham, Robinson and Ream, believed that Ferguson was offside. However, due to Calvin Bassey’s positioning mistake, he was not. Ferguson then made a right-footed touch and finished with his left foot, making it look effortless. De Zerbi was filled with joy and did a pirouette to celebrate.

The match required a pursuit, but due to the strong offensive capabilities of the team, it was challenging to envision Fulham making any progress in the heavy rain. However, when Jiménez – who has gone 32 league games without scoring – was substituted out just before the 60-minute mark, something shifted.

Jiménez’s removal was part of an effective triple switch. Suddenly, Fulham pressed. Suddenly, Jason Steele’s pass put Gross under pressure. Suddenly, Alex Iwobi won possession and found the newly introduced Harry Wilson. His lay-off to Palhinha resulted in a spin and strike that left Steele standing. Brighton’s wait for a league clean sheet this season continues.

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At that point, it was evident that De Zerbi was feeling annoyed. If Lewis Dunk’s free-kick had been slightly lower and hit the crossbar after half-time, the opposing team may not have been able to tie the score. Additionally, if Palhinha had been penalized for elbowing Gross in the first half, the tying goal would not have occurred.

In contrast to the subdued competition that preceded it, the last quarter of the game was frenzied. Fulham maintained a strong defensive formation with two lines of players, while Brighton aggressively pressed forward.

Ansu Fati forced Leno to make a save; Robinson cleared Adam Webster’s header off the line with a nod; the coaches in both technical areas grew more agitated. De Zerbi threw his baseball cap in frustration after a poorly placed pass. Silva moved with determination, covering every part of his designated area on the field.

The whistle blew, signaling the end. They shook hands, both content with the outcome.


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