Brighton moved up to third in the fledgling Premier League table after Neal Maupay’s disputed penalty and Danny Welbeck’s header sealed a 2-1 win over Leicester in an incident-packed encounter.
Maupay’s 35th-minute spot-kick was controversially awarded with Jannik Vestergaard punished for handball yet seemingly held back by the Seagulls striker, but Welbeck’s second-half header (50) was legitimate reward for their dominance.
Jamie Vardy finished a slick move on his 250th Premier League appearance to give the visitors a lifeline (61) but, having surrendered a two-goal lead in the Europa League in midweek, the Foxes were left to rue further decisions as a comeback of their own was scuppered at a sodden Amex Stadium.
Ademola Lookman was denied after a VAR check in the 67th minute, with Harvey Barnes ruled offside, and Barnes was dubiously deemed culpable of another infringement when Wilfred Ndidi headed past Robert Sanchez with just five minutes remaining.
Brighton, who sit just a point off the summit, extend their best start to a top-flight season with four wins from five, while Leicester, who toiled until Lookman’s second-half introduction, sit 12th with just two wins from their opening fixtures.
Brighton: Sanchez (7), Cucurella (8), Dunk (7), Duffy (8), Veltman (7), March (7), Bissouma (7), Trossard (7), Lallana (6), Maupay (7), Welbeck (7).
Subs: Mwepu (6), Burn (6), Moder (n/a).
Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Pereira (7), Soyuncu (5), Vestergaard (5), Bertrand (5), Ndidi (6), Tielemans (6), Soumare (6), Maddison (4), Barnes (5), Vardy (6).
Subs: Lookman (8), Castagne (6), Iheanacho (6).
Man of the Match: Marc Cucurella
How Brighton dug in and VAR denied Leicester
After generous applause in tribute to the late Jimmy Greaves, the teams set a brisk tempo on a slick surface, Youri Tielemans shooting just wide after a neat one-touch move involving Barnes and Vardy.
- Brighton: made one change, with Solly March coming in for Adam Webster. Tariq Lamptey was named on the bench after a long injury lay-off.
- Leicester: handed a debut start to Boubakary Soumare, while Ricardo Pereira returned, along with three players rested in Europe in midweek – Jamie Vardy, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison.
Brighton had not beaten Leicester in eight Premier League attempts but the Foxes, frustrated by Napoli on Thursday, would not muster a first-half shot on target and Graham Potter’s side grew in confidence.
The impressive Marc Cucurella teed up Maupay after a nutmeg and slide-rule pass, before a scooped cross found its way to Adam Lallana, who crafted a yard with a dummy but shot well over the bar.
Leandro Trossard tested Kasper Schmeichel from an angle but the breakthrough Brighton had threatened came in controversial circumstances, Shane Duffy heading onto Vestergaard’s outstretched arm, though the defender appeared to have been held and hindered by Maupay himself.
Referee Stuart Attwell consulted only his assistant rather than the touchline monitor but the VAR upheld his decision and Maupay sent Schmeichel the wrong way for his third goal of the season.
Welbeck beat Vardy at the near post shortly after the restart, stealing a glancing header from Trossard’s free-kick, but the evergreen striker was not ready to let the game go.
Lookman was involved in the build-up with a smart back-flick as Leicester hit back stylishly, Vardy meeting Tielemans’ fine clipped cross from close range for his 150th Foxes goal.
Momentum looked firmly with Leicester but though the visitors appeared to have secured an equaliser when Lookman scuffed into the back of the net, it was ruled out after the VAR again upheld the onfield decision of an offside flag, with Barnes judged to be in Sanchez’s line of sight.
Caglar Soyuncu headed wide inside the box with just over 10 minutes remaining as Leicester kept the pressure on in search of a leveller, while Barnes saw his shot deflected onto the bar.
Leicester finally looked to have equalised through Ndidi’s header but Barnes was ruled to have obstructed Sanchez for a second time and Brighton held on, Duffy and Lewis Dunk typically dogged as the Foxes’ late charge proved in vain.
- Brighton registered their first league victory against Leicester since April 2014 in the Championship (winless in eight against the Foxes prior to today) and their first in the top-flight since April 1981.
- With 12 points from five games, Brighton have made their best start to a league campaign since 2015-16 in the Championship (13), while this is their best ever points tally after five games in a top-flight season.
- Leicester have lost six of their last nine Premier League games (W3), as many defeats as in their previous 25 league matches.
- Only Glenn Murray (26) has netted more Premier League goals for Brighton than Neal Maupay (21, five from the penalty spot).
- Danny Welbeck has scored five Premier League goals for Brighton in 2021, his best return in a single calendar year since 2017 (5), last netting more in 2014 (7).
- Jamie Vardy scored his 150th goal for Leicester in all competitions; only Arthur Chandler (273), Arthur Rowley (265) and Ernie Hine (156) have netted more in the club’s history.
Brighton host Swansea in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, before travelling to Crystal Palace for Monday Night Football on September 27.
Leicester face a trip to Millwall in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday and are back in Premier League action at home to Burnley on Saturday September 25.