Brighton’s José Izquierdo grabs share of the points against Stoke City
Home team scorers Pascal Gross 44 Jose Izquierdo 60
Away team scorers Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting 28 Kurt Zouma 45 +0:32
Brighton & Hove Albion twice came from behind to earn a draw at home to Stoke City and extend their unbeaten run to five matches with the home manager, Chris Hughton, grateful his team overcame the referee’s failure to award them a clear first-half penalty.
Pascal Gross and then José Izquierdo replied to goals by Maxim Choupo-Moting and Kurt Zouma to leave both sides with a point on the south coast, on a night when Peter Crouch made history of an altogether different kind.
Brighton remain ninth in the Premier League while Stoke prolonged their own unbeaten run to three matches to stay 15th, four points above the relegation zone. Put to Mark Hughes that four of the five Premier League clubs beneath his side have sacked their managers this season, the Stoke manager smirked. “Why are you asking me?” he said. “If you don’t get results in this game you get sacked, unfortunately.” This, at least, proved thoroughly entertaining fare on a dank evening in east Sussex.
Hughton had described Stoke as a “very manly side”, no doubt a nod to their attritional approach and one that again paid dividends for their opener. Xherdan Shaqiri’s floated ball over the Brighton defence in search of Choupo-Moting caught Lewis Dunk cold – by the time the defender realised the whereabouts of his man, the Stoke striker had coolly slotted his third goal of the season beyond Mathew Ryan, the goalkeeper.
Ruffled after going behind, Brighton were raging when Lee Mason awarded not a spot-kick but a goal-kick six minutes before the interval, when the Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross, already the crowd’s pantomime villain, cut down Glenn Murray inside the box. It really was the definition of a penalty. “I was just waiting for the referee to give it,” Hughton said. Hughes, by comparison, felt the referee, who was roundly booed off at the final whistle, got it right. “I think there was minimal contact,” the Stoke manager said.
Glenn Murray goes down under a challenge from Ryan Shawcross in the first half – Lee Mason awarded Stoke a goal kick. Photograph: Charb/ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock Kevin Friend, the fourth official, calmed Hughton over the penalty appeal and played peacemaker moments later when Hughes erupted at Murray’s meaty lunge on Kevin Wimmer. Once Brighton had composed themselves they pulled level, however.
After a relentless driving run past a sea of Stoke shirts Davy Propper crossed for Gross – so often the supplier this season – to smash in an equaliser But less than two minutes later Stoke regained the lead, when Zouma’s header from Choupo-Moting’s flick had the Brighton net rippling once more. Then came the protracted celebrations, with Choupo-Moting joining the Chelsea loanee for a rehearsed jive in front of the North stand. Erik Pieters, too, joined in the fun from halfway.
Izquierdo, a £13.5m club-record signing from Club Brugge last summer, was lively but equally erratic in possession. He went close in the first half, dropping a curling effort wide of Lee Grant’s goal after being slid in superbly by Propper, another summer signing, but he eventually prospered on the hour mark. Murray played in Izquierdo, whose pass pinballed off Pieters and back into his path, allowing the Colombian to rattle it home. “I think he is improving with every week he is with us,” Hughton added. “He admits himself that he has come from a league that perhaps is not as physical and the demands are different.”
Murray thrived throughout as Brighton’s go-to man while another striker in his mid-30s prepared to make Premier League history late on. Stoke summoned Crouch from the bench in place of Shaqiri for the striker to make his 143rd appearance as a Premier League substitute, surpassing the record he previously shared with Shola Ameobi. Another striker, Saido Berahino, did not get on and it is now 633 days since the Stoke forward last found the net.
A gritty draw was not enough for Hughes to feel the benefits of what, on another night, would probably be regarded as a point gained, however. “Our reaction is tinged with disappointment,” he admitted. “Any away point is usually a good result but having got into a winning position on two occasions, that’s where the disappointment lies.”
Brighton, too, tweaked personnel late on – Solly March, Izzy Brown and Ezequiel Schelotto all entered the action – as the Seagulls pushed and pushed for a winner. It never came, though, but despite an evening full of frustration the feelgood factor lives on at the club.