Brighton summer signing Leandro Trossard scored and saw a goal ruled out by the video assistant referee as West Ham held them to a draw. The Belgian playmaker, signed from Genk for an undisclosed fee in June, thought he had opened the scoring midway through the first half only for his effort to be ruled out for offside on a VAR review.
But Trossard was not to be denied a debut goal, and he fired past Lukasz Fabianski from the edge of the box shortly after Javier Hernandez had put the Hammers into a 61st-minute lead. The Seagulls pushed for a winner late on with Trossard, Lewis Dunk and Davy Propper all going close, but Graham Potter was forced to settle for a point at the end of his first home game in charge.
Having thumped Watford on the opening day of the season, Brighton went into their first home game of the campaign high on confidence and it showed. Dan Burn could have scored in the opening minutes but he failed to direct his headed effort goalward while Trossard, who was the stand-out performer from either side, had numerous chances to score more than one goal.
And second-half substitute Neal Maupay, who netted on debut against Watford a week earlier, also spurned a golden chance in the final minute of normal time, firing over with the goal gaping. But to West Ham’s credit, despite their lack of attacking threat, they did defend resolutely for long periods, and Michail Antonio spurned a fine chance of his own in the closing stages – heading weakly at Mat Ryan from close range.
Graham Potter’s Brighton tenure got off to the best possible start away at Watford last week. Their 3-0 win represented a stark improvement at both ends of the pitch from last season when they narrowly avoided relegation by finishing 17th.
And their good form continued against the Hammers on Saturday – largely due to the performance of a player who was not even needed at Vicarage Road. Trossard was indeed an unused substitute against the Hornets but having been thrust into the starting XI at the expense of Jurgen Locadia, the Belgian took his chance with both hands.
Whether it was carrying the ball at pace or threading balls through for Glenn Murray, the 24-year-old was a constant threat for the Seagulls. And it only took him 28 minutes to find the net – although his sweetly timed finish was rightly ruled out for offside.
After consulting VAR, replays found that Burn, who provided the cross for Trossard’s effort, was offside from the initial ball into the box. But neither VAR nor Fabianski was able to deny the Belgian a debut goal as he pinched the ball from a dallying Issa Diop to fire home from the edge of the box just after the hour mark.
Trossard’s signing was perhaps forgotten after Maupay’s £20m arrival from Brentford but the Belgian’s 22 goals and 11 assists from 47 outings for Genk last term illustrate he is certainly a dangerous attacking threat. And Brighton fans will undoubtedly hope for more performances like this one from their new playmaker.
West Ham were always up against it on the opening day as they faced reigning champions Manchester City, but would have hoped for a more inspiring performance at Brighton. They were without Felipe Anderson and new signing Sebastien Haller, who both picked up knocks in the 5-0 defeat by Pep Guardiola’s side, but Manuel Pellegrini did name £24m summer signing Pablo Fornals in the starting XI for the first time.
Yet Fornals, who won the Under-21 European Championship with Spain this summer, largely saw the game pass him by. Whenever the 23-year-old did attempt to make an impact, he was bullied by Brighton’s sturdy backline.
It was not until the 44th minute that West Ham took their first shot – a harmless effort from Declan Rice that sailed over the bar. And it was with only their fourth shot which they took the lead as Hernandez coolly beat Ryan after being sent clear by Manuel Lanzini.
After the Mexican’s goal, which came against the run of play, they offered little – with Robert Snodgrass and Lanzini failing to influence the game in the way their Brighton counterparts did. Pellegrini will hope for an improved performance – and the return of several key men – when they travel to Watford next week.