Brighton and Hove Albion score three to hand Arsenal heavy defeat in League Cup at Emirates
Brighton & Hove Albion came from behind to dump Arsenal out of the Carabao Cup at the third-round stage, inflicting a first home defeat of the season on Mikel Arteta’s side in the process.
Arsenal took the lead slightly against the run of play following a rapid counterattack led by Reiss Nelson, who charged through the middle before playing in Eddie Nketiah, whose right-footed curling shot nestled in the top corner.
Arteta made a raft of changes for the game, including handing Karl Hein a debut, but it was baptism of fire for the 20-year-old as he took out Danny Welbeck, conceding a penalty and was perhaps fortunate not to see red. Welbeck sent the young Estonian the wrong way but refused to celebrate against his former club, as the first half ended 1-1.
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The Gunners made a bright start to the second period and came within a whisker of taking the lead, Nketiah’s first-time shot crashing off the inside of the woodwork before bouncing to safety.
But it was Brighton who scored the game’s all-important third goal, with Kaoru Mitoma finishing an intricate attacking move off just shy of the hour-mark.
Roberto De Zerbi’s charges would only grow in confidence from here and they put the game out of Arsenal’s sight when Tariq Lamptey burst through and stuck the ball between the legs of Hein.
It was an occasion to remember for Brighton’s 6,000 fans, who took great delight in watching their free-scoring side claim a third successive victory.
TALKING POINT – Free-scoring Brighton upset Arsenal
Arsenal were searching for their 13th straight win at the Emirates, and when Nketiah struck early, it looked like it was going to be another thrilling night for the home supporters. But they failed to build on their lead and a mistake by Hein allowed the visitors a way back into the game, with the team ultimately collapsing in the last half-hour.
An exit at the third-round stage will be disappointing for Arsenal, who haven’t won this competition for 30 years, but on reflection Arteta may be secretly relieved. He can’t boast of a huge squad, and with the games coming thick and fast again after Christmas, his side may be relieved with fewer games.
On the other hand, Brighton – who have now scored 10 goals in their last three games – might sense they have an opportunity to go deep in the tournament and possibly even win a first-ever League Cup. If the fourth-round draw goes in their favour, they could well find themselves in the quarter-finals – and then who knows? With Tottenham and Chelsea already out, as well as a number of other Premier League clubs, why not dare to dream?
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – Jason Steele (Brighton)
There were a number of standout performers in the away ranks, but the 32-year-old shades it. Steele made the most of a rare opportunity between the sticks, making two huge saves to keep the scores level when Arsenal were throwing the gauntlet down at the beginning of the second half.
Arsenal: Hein 4, Soares 5, Saliba 7, Holding 5, Tierney 6, Lokonga 5, Elneny 5, Viera 4, Nelson 6, Marquinhos 5, Nketiah 6.. subs: Gabriel 5, Jesus 5, Martinelli 5, Xhaka N/A, Zinchenko 5.
Brighton: Steele 8*, Dunk 7, Colwill 6, Veltman 6, Lamptey 8, Caicedo 7, Gilmour 7, Sarmiento 7, March 6, Enciso 7, Welbeck 7.. subs: Webster 6, Gross 6, Undav N/A, Mitoma 7, Estupinan N/A.
20’ – GOAL! ARSENAL 1-0 BRIGHTON (EDDIE NKETIAH): A lovely finish from Nketiah following a quick break sees Arsenal take the lead! The charge is led by Nelson, who charges through the middle before playing in Nketiah, who rifles a right-footed shot into the top corner and past the helpless Steele.
27’ – GOAL! ARSENAL 1-1 BRIGHTON (DANNY WELBECK, PEN): Welbeck steps up confidently and sends the goalkeeper the wrong way. Cool as you like against his former club.
49’ – OFF THE POST! Nketiah shoots first-time from Tierney’s pass and it looks for all the world that it’s heading in. Steele gets a fingertip to it, pushing the ball onto the post and it bounces to safety.
58’ – GOAL! ARSENAL 1-2 BRIGHTON (KAORU MITOMA): Brighton are ahead for the first time in the game! Lovely one-touch football from the visitors, with Enciso, Sarmiento and Veltman combining on the right. Sarmiento slips in Mitomo who plants it into the right-hand corner and celebrates with the travelling supporters.
71’ – GOAL! ARSENAL 1-3 BRIGHTON (TARIQ LAMPTEY): After being fed by Gilmour, Lamptey takes a couple of touches to set himself and fires the ball between the legs of Hein to give Brighton some breathing space in the tie!
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