Alexis Mac Allister earns Brighton a point in six-goal thriller with Brentford
Alexis Mac Allister converted a late VAR-awarded penalty as Brighton came from behind three times to snatch a thrilling 3-3 Premier League draw with fellow European hopefuls Brentford.
The Argentina World Cup winner coolly fired into the top right corner from 12 yards in the 90th minute after Stockley Park spotted Bees defender Aaron Hickey had blocked Deniz Undav’s close-range effort with his arm.
The Seagulls dominated at the Amex Stadium but looked set to slip to a damaging defeat as the visitors led for most of the second half thanks to Ethan Pinnock’s strike.
Albion twice levelled during a breathless opening period, with Kaoru Mitoma and Danny Welbeck cancelling out strikes from Pontus Jansson and Ivan Toney.
A pulsating south-coast contest moves both sides above Liverpool in their respective quests for continental qualification, with Brighton sixth and Brentford seventh.
Roberto De Zerbi’s hosts, who are above their opponents on goal difference but with two games in hand, started in the ascendancy but twice fell behind during the opening half hour.
Recalled Bees defender Jansson claimed the 10th-minute opener, rising above rival captain Lewis Dunk to thump a powerful header beyond Jason Steele following Mathias Jensen’s inviting inswinging cross from the left.
Midfielder Jensen then had the opportunity to double the away side’s lead but his stinging effort from an indirect free-kick inside Albion’s box was blocked by Mac Allister after Steele picked up Pervis Estupinan’s back pass.
Steele made amends for the momentary lapse in judgement in the 21st minute by claiming an assist. The keeper’s pinpoint punt up field caught out the Bees’ backline and Mitoma, who was denied by a superb sliding block from Pinnock early on, raced clear to coolly lob the stranded David Raya.
Home supporters had barely finished celebrating the leveller when Brentford regained the lead.
Joel Veltman conceded possession from a throw-in deep in Brighton territory and Toney, who made his England debut last weekend, collected a neat flicked pass from Bryan Mbeumo to dispatch his 17th league goal of the season into the bottom right corner.
A gripping game then swung back the other with the fourth goal of the afternoon arriving in the 28th minute.
Brentford’s fans had only just finished an explicit chant unfavourably comparing Welbeck to Toney when the former silenced the away end by leaping at the back post to nod Solly March’s right-wing cross into the ground and beyond Raya.
Brighton enjoyed 69 per cent first-half possession and registered 15 attempts at goal but went in level following a series of near misses.
Welbeck was unable to convert following fine play from Mitoma, Mac Allister forced Raya to tip a curling effort wide, Levi Colwill headed narrowly over and March shot tamely when well placed.
For all of their attacking enterprise, Brighton’s performance was being undone by sloppy defending.
Brentford were back in front within four minutes of the restart when Pinnock escaped the static Albion rearguard to prod home unmarked following Mbeumo’s searching free-kick into the area.
The largely one-way traffic resumed as Brighton pushed for another equaliser, while remaining wary of being sucker-punched on the counter-attack.
Raya saved from March, Veltman and Pascal Gross, while Dunk wastefully headed over for an Estupinan cross during relentless home pressure.
Brighton’s best chances looked to have come and gone until the dramatic late twist.
Referee Michael Oliver initially awarded a corner following the effort from Seagulls substitute Undav.
But replays showed his shot struck the outstretched arm of Bees right-back Hickey and, following a lengthy delay, Mac Allister slammed home from the spot.