St Marys was host to an exciting, well-fought draw in a south-coast derby as neither Southampton or Brighton could emerge victorious.
First blood was drawn by Southampton man Pierre Hojbjerg in the 34th minute, a dazzling strike to open the Saints account for the evening. The Dane is playing with huge confidence after scoring against Crystal Palace and showed it once again tonight.
The goal came out of nothing as El Younoussi’s cross was deflected away into the path off Hojbjerg, who took one touch and dispatched what can only be described as an arrow into the bottom left-hand side of the net from 25 yards. Saints’ start warranted a goal and it was provided in emphatic fashion by Hojbjerg.
Drama continued to unfold at St Mary’s as Wesley Hoedt challenged Bissouma on the edge of the Southampton area, however, the collision required both sets of medical teams to enter the pitch. Luckily both players were able to continue with no serious damage done.
A penalty awarded in the 62nd minute was calmly slotted in to the bottom corner by Saints man Danny Ings. The offender, Gaetan Bong, clumsily left his foot in a tackle inside the area, after a skilful run, which was enough to bring down the Southampton attacker and for the penalty to be awarded.
Brighton respond perfectly as they were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous area. Knockaert, who looked dangerous throughout the match, whipped in a perfect ball straight onto the head of Shane Duffy, who made no mistake about bringing Brighton back into the game. Chris Hughton was evidently pleased with the response of his side, who still had a lot to do in the remaining 20 minutes of the game.
With 15 minutes remaining, Mark Hughes made a double change replacing Long and El Younoussi with Gabiadinni and Ward-Prowse, evidently with the intent on putting the game to bed. This was shortly followed by Steven Davis, who after recovering from a horrible Achilles injury, was back on international duty against Bosnia and Isreal; a welcome addition back to the Saints match-day squad.
The 89th minute saw a penalty awarded to Brighton after an altercation in the box between Ward-Prowse and Duffy. Glen Murray made no mistake and powered the ball right down the middle to bring Brighton level; deservedly so after absolutely slaughtering Southampton in the pressure that led to the penalty. This was the last piece of drama before the game ended in a two all draw.
Home and Away
Southampton and Brighton seem to be in a stalemate in the Premier League, with their previous three encounters now ending in a draw. Bragging rights are hard to establish on the South coast even with Saints defeating Brighton in the Carabao Cup. Chris Hughton will be hugely impressed with his side who fought tenaciously to recover from a two-goal deficit.
Who needs Dusan Tadic?
With the departure of Dusan Tadic to Feyenoord in the summer, there were some big questions asked about the creative ability of Southampton’s midfield. However, one player who has really shone in the absence of Tadic is Nathan Redmond.
The young Englishman was excellent and direct, displaying superb ball control and attacking ability. This is possible through space being available in the final third in which Tadic would have occupied. The two defensive midfielders, Hojbjerg and Lemina, allow Redmond to glide into those attacking positions and worry defenders. One to watch for the rest of the season.
Mark Hughes hasn’t won consecutive matches in the Premier League since January 2017; 52 games in total. This must surely raise the eyebrows of the Southampton board who have recently renewed his contract.
One positive that Southampton can take from Hughes is that the style of football is reminiscent of the football previously played at St. Mary’s under the watchful eye of Mauricio Pochetino. Encouraging signs for the Saints as Mark Hughes will definitely be trying to break that consecutive win curse.
Man of the Match: Anthony Knockaert
Tonight’s game was difficult to distinguish a man of the match due to the high quality of football that was played. However, Knockaert stood out. With bags of skill and a fiery spirit, he managed to lift the Brighton team and initiate the goal which led to rescuing a point for the Seasiders.