Wolves 2 – 3 Brighton
Adam Lallana says that claims Brighton are struggling for goals are “absolute rubbish” after he scored and assisted in his side’s victory over 10-man Wolves.
On the day former Spain and Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui was announced as their next manager, Wolves showed battling qualities as they played the second half a man down following Nelson Semedo’s red card just before half-time.
But they could not hold off increasing Brighton pressure and lost for the eighth time this season, despite scoring twice in a game for the first time.
Lallana rebutted claims that the Seagulls have struggled in front of goal this season – with their tally of 22 being higher than the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea.
He told Match of the Day: “I think that’s complete and utter rubbish. Especially with the way we play, I think we’re getting in great areas.
“It’s just about us all contributing a little bit more. If we want a striker as good as Danny Welbeck then we need to spend £80-90m in my opinion in the English market. They don’t exist, they’re not out there.
“We need to just get better and all of us take a bit of responsibility in the final third. It was nice to contribute a little bit more today.”
A pulsating opening period had seen Wolves respond to falling behind to a rare Adam Lallana goal with Goncalo Guedes and a Ruben Neves penalty putting them 2-1 up.
They then conceded an equaliser a minute from Japan international Kaoru Mitoma before the break.
But Semedo’s dismissal for a foul on Mitoma shortly afterwards changed the dynamic of the contest.
Winger Mitoma was a pivotal figure in the game and it was his run into the box that created the opportunity for Gross’ winner.
The result leaves Wolves sitting second-bottom of the league with 10 points, while Brighton is sixth.
When Lopetegui analyses this game, he will see a number of flaws but will at least be buoyed by the Wolves’ character.
In their last game at Brentford, they equalised two minutes after falling behind and it was the same against Brighton.
Guedes’ contribution to the Wolves side this season has been questionable but the £27.5m Portugal forward did well to stay on his feet, force his way into the box and drill his first goal of the season past Robert Sanchez to make it 1-1.
When Neves put his penalty into the roof of the net, the Wolves had gone from the bottom of the table to out of the relegation zone completely.
Yet the defensive issues Lopetegui must address as a priority were soon in evidence. Too often, they allowed Brighton players space close to their goal. Mitoma was unmarked when he headed home his first goal for the Seagulls at the far post.
The last of Semedo’s 96 starts for Barcelona was the 8-2 humiliation by Bayern Munich, so defending has never been the attacking fullback’s strong suit.
When he got the wrong side of Mitoma and half pulled, half clipped him to the ground on the edge of the box, his red card was inevitable.
It was Wolves second red card in successive games and, with Diego Costa suspended and Raul Jimenez injured, the knowledge two completely untested teenage forwards were on the bench shows that bolstering the striking department must also be a priority for Lopetegui.
Unlike when they lost 4-0 to Leicester and were booed off the pitch, with club officials singled out for criticism, home supporters offered appreciative applause for their team at the final whistle.
Yet Brighton were deserved winners and, by completing successive triumphs following the success against Chelsea, Roberto de Zerbi has achieved something in his first month in charge that took Graham Potter three times as long to achieve as Brighton boss.
Amazingly, Lallana only scored once in just over two seasons under Potter.
Eighty-two previous goals from his time at Southampton and Liverpool suggest he is far better than that.
And the composure the former England midfielder showed to open the scoring at the start of a chaotic half underlines that theory.
Now 34, Lallana may not be capable of being the same player who was selected for England’s 2014 World Cup squad but he could be a major influence in ensuring Brighton do not slip too far from their current sixth position.
source – BBC