Neal Maupay did a shushing gesture after he dramatically rescued a draw for Brighton at Southampton with an equaliser in the eighth minute of added time.
Perhaps he realised the flak that would have come his way – and for his team – had he not took a touch, turned and struck in. Instead the player who was taking criticism was Alex McCarthy, the Southampton goalkeeper, who let in the late leveller – and angered his manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl, for not making him aware of the extent of an injury he was carrying.
McCarthy, playing with a hamstring injury, was powerless to stop Maupay’s goal and it left fuming Hasenhuttl questioning the professionalism of his player. The Southampton manager said: “I had one change and we couldn’t take it because he didn’t say anything.
“This is for me not acceptable. But I didn’t know how tough it (the injury) is. If could do it again, I would change it.”
Brighton, in contrast, had used up all their subs – and were down to 10 men by the closing stages when Leandro Trossard was injured. Maupay though, stunningly, made lightning strike twice.
For the second time in four days, he scored late on away to secure a 1-1 draw for ten men – having done exactly the same against West Ham United on Wednesday. On that occasion, it was an overhead kick after Adam Lallana had gone off injured. Maupay was gutsy to keep going here and, in the end, fortune favoured the brave.
The leveller at St Mary’s papered over the cracks, though, for Brighton who were second best to lively Southampton. Brighton have equalled the club record winless run in the top flight, with this being the 10th in a row. It could and should have been worse though.
Armando Broja, the 20-year-old Albania forward, on loan from Chelsea, calmly gave Southampton the lead and things were looking grim for Graham Potter’s men. Potter’s men though should be given credit for how many times they have fought to the end this season.
Potter said: “What I don’t doubt in the players is their character, spirit, willingness to keep going to the end.”
Southampton players looked shattered at the end with no shouting afterwards in the dressing room – despite the tension between manager and goalkeeper.
Brighton’s strong start to the season means they are still in the top half but they looked disjointed here without injured captain Lewis Dunk at the back. Trossard had to be stretchered off with his elbow injury but Potter thinks it might not be as bad as it looks.
St Mary’s has remained an awkward place to visit this season, with only one team – Wolves – winning here in eight. Ralph Hasenhuttl, their manager, has remained in communication with the board regularly about the takeover talk still surrounding the club – and extra funds would be a welcome help.
“It’s a horrible feeling,” Hasenhuttl said, reflecting on this result. “It was unnecessary.”
In Dunk’s absence with a knee injury, Potter started with a back three plus wing-backs – and they were given problems aplenty. Southampton raced out of the blocks with Robert Sanchez, the visiting goalkeeper, rescuing his team with a double save from Broja then Che Adams.
Broja scored after taking a cushioning touch to evade Shane Duffy then steering in from 12 yards, from a flick-on by Nathan Redmond. Brighton were largely at fault themselves as they gave away possession when trying to play out from the back from Sanchez.
Southampton carried on looking the more dangerous side – and Maupay blew the best Brighton chances, shooting wide then having a close-range effort kept out by McCarthy. He had the last laugh though from 10 yards after Jakub Moder’s free-kick was not cleared. “He just doesn’t give up,” Potter said about Maupay. “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”