Brighton’s Danny Welbeck scored a dramatic goal at the break to deny Chelsea an important Premier League victory on Thursday, just as they were ready to move on within three points of Manchester City.
Romelu Lukaku over-muscle Neil Maupay and headed a corner midway through the first half, but former Manchester United and Arsenal striker Welbeck punished the home side with a main goal on death.
A 1-1 draw means Thomas Tuchel’s side are five points behind City, who extended their lead to eight points after beating Brentford 1-0 in Thursday’s later kick-off.
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Chelsea have now lost more points after leading this season (11) than they did throughout last year (10).
Blues coach Thomas Tuchel was sizzling after the match and blew up after no penalty was awarded for a challenge on Christian Pulisic in the box in the second half.
“We have a terrible decision from the referee to make it 2-0,” he said.
“It was not even checked. All against us. We have two injuries left.
“The punishment is a joke. Honestly, a joke.
“We simply have too many players coming back from long injuries and Covid. The injury of Reece James was a huge blow. Andreas was one of the best players on the pitch and at one point it’s too much against a Brighton team with nothing to lose. ”
It was not entirely bad, with Lukaku impressively as the powerful focal point of Chelsea’s attack that kept the ball well up and threatened the Brighton defense with its physical presence.
The home side looked more dangerous in the early stages without creating many clear openings and former Chelsea player Tariq Lamptey was a constant threat down to the right of the visitors.
Chelsea’s wing back, Reece James, limped off in the 27th minute with an apparent hamstring injury and was replaced by Marcos Alonso.
This comes after it was confirmed earlier this week that Ben Chilwell was due to have surgery on his ACL.
Chelsea took the lead immediately after Lukaku shook off Maupay’s attention after a match to hit a header past goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.
Brighton’s complaints were waved away as Chelsea – as long as the top of the league this season – celebrated.
But Graham Potter’s team came back strong, with Edouard Mendy forced to push a fierce Adam Lallana drive away while Alexis Mac Allister shot straight at the goalkeeper.
The impressive Yves Bissouma got into the hands of Mendy early in the second half as the visitors continued to plague Chelsea.
A few minutes later, Callum Hudson-Odoi blasted out of his own half of the field, but failed to find Mason Mount until Maupay flashed wide at the other end as the match opened.
It looked like it would be a familiar story for Brighton, who have struggled to score this season, but substitute Welbeck had other ideas, heading Marc Cucurella’s post home in the 91st minute.
URBAN CHARGING AT THE TOP
Elsewhere, Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to an ominous eight points on Thursday, beating Brentford 1-0.
Phil Foden’s goal in the first half was enough to give Pep Guardiola’s champions a 10th league victory in a row as they took full advantage of Chelsea’s drop at Stamford Bridge.
The defending champions now have 50 points after 20 games, putting them eight ahead of Chelsea in second place, who themselves are one point ahead of Liverpool, who lost to Leicester on Wednesday.
Brentford created some good scoring opportunities in the early stages of west London, but it was City who took the lead in the 16th minute when Foden cleverly inserted a cross from Kevin De Bruyne.
City dominated ball possession, but had difficulty producing shots on goal, and Guardiola looked edged on the sideline as his team tried to see victory.
They thought they had sealed the three points in the dying minutes when Aymeric Laporte rose to his head, but his goal was ruled out by VAR for a marginal offside.