Graham Potter allowed himself a brief celebration before an almost embarrassed grin appeared on his face.
He’s been on the rough end of many an afternoon like this as Brighton’s boss. He’ll feel the pain, he’ll know well the puncture that sucked life out of three corners of this ground as the clock ticked toward 90 minutes.
But will he care? Not an iota. For Brentford, this will go down in history as a hard lesson in the realities of Premier League football. It’s a cliché because it’s true: don’t take your chances, fail to advance in your favor and teams will punish you.
Leandro Trossard (left) celebrates his last goal with teammate Adam Lallana
Trossard helped Brighton smash to take the win at Brentford Community Stadium
Brighton learned that lesson harder than most last season, but on Saturday they were the masters of a cruel twist of fate that ends Brentford’s unbeaten start at the highest level
Potter will point to the resilience and cleverness his match showed by staying in a match when they were the best by a few minutes. And he should. They did the hard work and made sure it counted a minute from time, when substitute Alexis Mac Allister drove towards Brentford and fed Leandro Trossard, who worked a meter of space and netted the only goal of the game.
It meant Brighton could toast to a third win in four and Yves Bissouma once again dance for their supporters.
Manager Graham Potter congratulates his goalkeeper Robert Sanchez at the end of the match
Brentford’s Rico Henry (center) fights for possession with Brighton’s Jakub Moder
In the meantime, this will be a miss for Brentford. They were excellent for long periods, with Ivan Toney super and Bryan Mbeumo a threat everywhere.
Unfortunately for Thomas Frank’s side, that means nothing and so ends their 15-game unbeaten run in football – the longest in England’s four best divisions.
There was plenty of reason for optimism for the future, not that it will feel that way now. Not when they could hear the Brighton fans flocking to the competitions, singing about an upcoming tour of Europe.
Among that group of traveling fans who had ventured from the south coast was chairman Tony Bloom. He posed for selfies, he was serenaded everywhere. He resisted invitations to sing a song for them, preferring to listen as his fellow supporters reminded everyone of how they had recently earned a hefty fee for Ben White.
Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma (left) tries to take over the Brentford defense
Part of that £50million went to new left-back Marc Cucurella. Brighton spent £15m to bring the international from Spain to England and Sergi Canos took it upon himself to kindly offer his compatriot a welcome gift.
Minutes after his Brighton debut, Cucurella was clattered by the fullback’s arm. It was an early signal of intent from Brentford, who swarmed all over Brighton towards the end of the first half.
They banged on the door and yet few attempts came much closer than Toney’s first sniff on target – a sniff only the striker saw coming. After the break of Mbeumo, 40 meters away, the striker went on target for the first time. His effort fizzled and dove just over the bar of Robert Sanchez.
Brighton had its own flashes during a frenetic opening period, most evident after Leandro Trossard shoved in returning Danny Welbeck, whose shot was saved by David Raya.
From there, however, the Toney and Mbeumo combination started to take control. They combined a neat free kick routine that ended with Toney leading the way.
The Bees seemed most likely to score but were unable to capitalize on their chances
Brentford fans saw their team’s 15-game unbeaten run in the league come to an end
Minutes later, Mbeumo fired a shot over from Toney’s cut-back before missing a second bite of the icing after a neat dummy from his attacking partner. Brighton faltered and a hole was blown in their rear when Adam Webster was forced out with an injury.
That led to a reshuffle and just more Brentford pressure. In stoppage time, Mbeumo curled another attempt just wide after working a yard from Toney’s through ball. And then Vitaly Janelt forced a clever save from Sanchez after playing a one-two with Toney – who else? — and flashed a shot on target.
The rest only delayed the inevitable for Brighton, who were immediately back on the back foot. Again, it was Toney and Mbeumo who caused the most mischief as Brighton’s backline took turns taking yellow.
However, it was to their credit that the visitors slowed down the flow of opportunities. Despite all the promise and pressure from Brentford they came up with some clear openings after the break and Potter’s bench made all the difference
Mac Allister gave them more offensive thrust himself and it was his one-two and his darting run that delivered the goal they barely deserved but will take. No questions asked.