Pervis Estupinan’s screamer from distance and two penalties from Joao Pedro helped injury-struck Brighton hold off a similarly patched-up Tottenham at the AMEX Stadium on Thursday night.
Jack Hinshelwood thumped the Seagulls in front before Joao Pedro converted from the penalty spot after Dejan Kulusevski pulled Danny Welbeck’s shirt in the box.
Substitute Estupinan’s third Premier League goal gave Brighton an insurmountable lead in the 63rd minute, with the visitors unable to make the most of their forays into the final third while struggling without a recognised centre-back in defence.
Giovani Lo Celso’s foul on Evan Ferguson allowed Pedro to convert his second penalty, but there was enough time for Spurs to send some nerves shooting through the home fans as 20-year-old Alejo Veliz scored his first ever Premier League goal in the 81st minute.
Ben Davies headed in another from Pedro Porro’s cross, but Brighton’s lead proved too big and they held off the late surge from the Londoners to take all three points.
How the game unfolded
Both sides are in the midst of injury crises but an open game was almost guaranteed in the first ever managerial meeting between Roberto De Zerbi and Ange Postecoglou.
Spurs started well from kick-off but Brighton soon began peppering Guglielmo Vicario’s goal, with the Italian needed to save Welbeck’s curler before denying the striker again with a more eye-catching stop from eight yards out.
The depleted Tottenham defence was breached in the 11th minute by a second Premier League goal for Hinshelwood. Pedro drifted in-field and held off defenders well before finding the 18-year-old, who blasted his shot centrally but with too much power for Vicario to repel.
The hosts were gifted a chance to make it 2-0 seconds after hitting the woodwork. Jan Paul van Hecke’s header struck the post and Welbeck was denied a clean effort at goal as Kulusevski grabbed a chunk of the former Arsenal forward’s shirt. It was picked up on review and Joao Pedro confidently rolled in the penalty, Vicario diving in the opposite direction.
Spurs’ bright start had been well and truly snuffed out on the south coast, falling two goals behind as Brighton pressed and hounded the visitors. Veteran James Milner nearly scored his first goal for the Seagulls but saw his pop from outside the area rebound off the post.
Ange Postecoglou’s side threatened in behind but couldn’t capitalise in the first 45 minutes, with Brennan Johnson losing momentum when through on goal before his shot was comfortably cleared. At the other end, Facundo Buonanotte thought he had netted a third Brighton goal with a well-taken half-volley, only for offside to be given after he connected with Welbeck’s cross.
Pedro Porro had a rough first half and it nearly ended disastrously for the Spanish right-back as an errant pass backwards fell to Pedro’s feet. However, having already scored and assisted, the Brazilian couldn’t take advantage, his dink being palmed away by Vicario.
Richarlison did rattle the outside of the post from the edge of the area, but Tottenham’s bid to make it four league wins on the trot was in tatters when the half-time whistle blew.
The second period began with Brighton winning three corners in a row before Son Heung-min nabbed possession and fed Richarlison. The Brazilian couldn’t curl his shot round Lewis Dunk, it instead fizzing just past the post.
The Albion were noticeably sloppier shortly after the restart, helping Tottenham ramp up the pressure. Kulusevski prodded Destiny Udogie through and the left-back saw two efforts blocked by Van Hecke and Jason Steele.
An offside call meant Richarlison’s well-taken finish was disallowed before Estupinan put the hosts in a truly dominant position just after the hour mark. The Ecuadorian collected Milner’s short corner and powered an absolute howitzer that sailed into the top-right corner of Vicario’s goal.
Spurs’ evening got even worse when substitute Lo Celso brought down Ferguson, allowing Pedro the chance to dispatch his second penalty.
There were a few crumbs of comfort late on for Tottenham as young Veliz came off the bench to collect Son’s cross and scramble in his first goal for the club since his summer transfer.
Brighton were certainly unnerved in the final throws of the game, allowing Tottenham to further reduce the deficit. Porro’s cross from the right was met with indecision from Steele and Dunk and Davies capitalised by nodding in.
Pierre Emile-Hojberg so nearly made it 4-3 as his shot struck the post, but Brighton saw out the nine minutes of second-half stoppage time to reduce the gap between the two teams to six points.