West Brom – Brighton was a wild, controversy-filled encounter at the Hawthorns as it was packed with drama.
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Kyle Bartley’s early header was enough to seal a huge win for West Brom, but that hardly told the story. Brighton missed two penalty kicks, missed numerous chances and had a free kick controversially ruled out in one of the most bizarre passages of play in Premier League history.
The win (Sam Allardyce’s first home win as West Brom boss) moves West Brom on to 17 points, as they are eight points from safety with 12 games to go. Brighton sit just four points above the bottom three as they dominated another game but somehow lost, once again.
Three things we learned
1. VAR shambles steals the show: Referee Lee Mason blew his whistle for a free kick, which Brighton captain Lewis Dunk took quickly and scored. Straightforward? Nope, it was anything but. Referee Lee Mason blew his whistle sharply just after the initial whistle blew, and VAR was used to determine the ball had not crossed the line before the second whistle blew.
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Confused? You wouldn’t be the only one. Both Graham Potter and Sam Allardyce, plus their players and coaching staff, looked around in disbelief. Eventually, no goal was awarded and Mason ordered the initial free kick to be retaken as he had seen some reason to stop play just after the free kick was taken. It was a farcical situation and we can only hope a more detailed explanation will arrive.
2. Brighton blanks will cost them dear: 65 attempts in their last three games has yielded just one goal. One. Brighton missed two penalty kicks at West Brom and although they were very unlucky to not have a goal when Dunk’s free kick went in, they just cannot finish off their chances. Graham Potter’s side have been brilliant from box-to-box for most of this season but in each box they keep making poor mistakes and that is why they are just above the relegation zone. If the Seagulls go down they will only have themselves, and their lack of clinical finishing, to blame.
3. West Brom’s luck changes: Sam Allardyce has bemoaned West Brom’s luck in recent weeks as they’ve coughed up points from winning positions but he will be thanking his lucky stars after the win against Brighton. West Brom dug deep defensively after going ahead and yes, they were lucky that Brighton missed two penalty kicks. Sometimes that bit of luck and the boost a win gives you will breath life into your battle against relegation.
Man of the Match: Kyle Bartley – Scored the winner and made some great blocks late on. A brilliant display of leadership.
An incredible first half played out with controversy galore, as Kyle Bartley put the Baggies 1-0 up early on. The skipper powered home a header from a corner but soon Brighton had a great chance to equalize.
The Seagulls were awarded a penalty kick after Okay Yokuslu handled in the box, but Pascal Gross hit the crossbar with his tame penalty.
Moments later, a huge moment of controversy arrived in one of the most bizarre decisions in Premier League history. Lee Mason blew his whistle and Lewis Dunk curled a quick free kick home to score, but Mason then used VAR to disallow the goal.
Mason blew his whistle for a second time just after Dunk had kicked the ball and the ball had yet to cross the line. Chaos ensued on the sidelines as the goal was ruled out, given and then ruled out again. Somehow West Brom were still ahead.
Brighton missed a great chance through Neal Maupay, while at the other end Ainsley Maitland-Niles spurned a superb chance and then Brighton almost struck right on half time but an almighty scramble saw West Brom survive.
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Brighton missed another glorious chance to equalize at the start of the second half as Maupay’s shot was pushed out by Johnstone but Aaron Connolly smashed over the bar from six yards out.
Joel Veltman then headed over another chance as Brighton continued to waste opportunities.
Brighton were awarded a second penalty kick of the game late on as Conor Townsend caught Gross, but substitute Danny Welbeck stepped up and hit the post.
Bartley then tackled brilliantly as West Brom held on for a valuable win in their battle against relegation.