Brighton 3 (Connolly 13, Maupay PEN 46, Dunk 70) Wolves 3 (Saiss 19, Burn OG 34, Neves PEN 44)
Wolves and Brighton & Hove Albion began 2021 with a six-goal thriller, sharing the points on an evening of what might have been for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side. The visitors had led 3-1 at the break, and were good value for their advantage, but back came the Seagulls to claim a share of the spoils.
After Aaron Connolly had put the hosts in front early on, Wolves came roaring back through a looping Romain Saiss header, Dan Burn own goal and penalty courtesy of Ruben Neves, after Adama Traore had been tripped in the area.
However, once Neal Maupay had scored with Brighton’s own spot kick, just seconds after the restart, a challenging second period was ahead and Wolves couldn’t hold on, conceding to a Lewis Dunk header and being forced to return home with a solitary point.
It took just two minutes of East Sussex football for Wolves to call Robert Sanchez into action, but Joao Moutinho, searching for his first goal of the season, curled an effort into the goalkeeper’s hands. Just 60 seconds after that, the search continued, this time Pedro Neto’s powerful run created an opening, but the youngster drilled wide of the near post.
However, after that early promise went unrewarded, Wolves were punished by Brighton’s first attack. Leandro Trossard twisted past Rayan Ait-Nouri to work the space for a cross which Wolves didn’t deal with, allowing Connolly to nip in between Saiss and Rui Patricio to turn home the opening goal.
Fortunately, the visitors weren’t behind for long, showing the desired character. Nelson Semedo initially wasted Moutinho pin-point corner with a sliced effort, but the Portuguese received a second bite of the cherry and clipped a fine cross onto the head of Saiss, who still had a lot to do, but looped his header back where it came, inside the front post.
While he will have been content seeing his side pull level, Nuno will have been suitably ecstatic with what would follow between Saiss’ goal and the break. First, the men in maroon turned the contest on its head, as Neto cut in on his left and forced a strong save out of Sanchez, but the ricochet hit Burn and trickled over the line – the slice of luck Wolves have been without this season.
Then, a piece of individual brilliance from Traore saw him skip past Burn near the byline and the Brighton defender responded by chopping down the Spaniard. Referee Peter Kavanagh had no option but to point to the spot and Neves confidently sent Sanchez the wrong way for his first goal of the season.
Half-time: Brighton 1 Wolves 3
While the end of the opening period was sublime for Wolves, the start to the second was less so. Under a minute was on the clock when Moutinho dangled out a leg and Maupay went down in the box. The Seagulls striker dusted himself off and fired down the middle to bring his side back into contention.
A tough second period awaited and just after the hour-mark Maximilian Kilman took the place of Vitinha and helped form a back three alongside Conor Coady and Saiss. Soon after Wolves were grateful to their woodwork, as Adam Webster headed against the crossbar and Andi Zeqiri blazed the rebound over.
However, it was just a temporary reprieve and soon after Dunk rose highest at the back post to power a header home and pull Brighton level once more. There was still a chance for Wolves to win it at the death however, as Traore clipped in a perfect cross for the run of substitute Owen Otasowie, but the youngster couldn’t keep his header down and the final whistle blew seconds later.
Full-time: Brighton 3 Wolves 3
Brighton: Sanchez, Burn (Lallana 69), Webster, Dunk, Veltman, White, Bissouma (Propper 46), Trossard, March, Connolly (Zeqiri 46), Maupay.
Unused subs: Steele, Mac Allister, Gross, Jahanbakhsh, Bernardo, Molumby.
Wolves: Patricio, Semedo, Coady, Saiss, Ait-Nouri, Neves, Moutinho, Vitinha (Kilman 64), Traore, Neto, Silva (Otasowie 87).
Unused subs: Ruddy, Sondergaard, Hoever, Richards, Cundle, Perry, Corbeanu.