London: Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s spectacular overhead kick earned Brighton a share of the points against Chelsea and dampened Frank Lampard’s New Year celebrations on Wednesday as Aston Villa secured a vital win against Burnley.
Kicking off a packed day of top-flight action, Chelsea’s 1-1 draw on England’s south coast meant they missed out on the chance to pull seven points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United in the race to secure Champions League football for next season.
Cesar Azpilicueta gave the visitors an early lead, tapping in from close range following a corner in the 10th minute but Brighton were never out of it and pulled level in the 84th minute courtesy of Jahanbakhsh’s moment of magic.
Chelsea were quickly on top from the start of the match but Brighton came into the contest as it wore on, enjoying a spell of possession towards the end of the first half.
Brighton kept battling and Kepa was forced to produce an outstanding save from Aaron Connolly in the 80th minute as the home side pushed for an equaliser.
Their persistence paid off minutes later. Lewis Dunk kept the ball alive from a corner-kick and Iranian midfielder Jahanbakhsh acrobatically found the bottom-left corner to give his team share of the points.
“It was frustrating for different reasons,” said Lampard. “In the first half, the game was there to be won. We weren’t ruthless enough. We got the goal and we had the possession. But we just didn’t kill the game off.
“We allowed them to stay in the game. In the end it was a wonder goal but we were lucky not to lose the game.”
Elsewhere, struggling Villa picked up their second away win of the Premier League season, securing three vital points in a 2-1 win at Burnley, their first league win at Turf Moor since 1936.
Villa thought they had taken an 11th-minute lead through a diving header from Jack Grealish but a VAR review found that Wesley’s heel was marginally offside during the move and the goal was over-turned.
It was Wesley who did open the scoring though in the 23rd — the impressive Grealish finding him in the box and the Brazilian swivelled and fired past Nick Pope to give Villa a deserved lead.
Burnley were unusually sloppy in defence and lacking their usual spirit of work-rate and it was no shock when Grealish doubled Villa’s lead four minutes before the break, finishing off a lovely passing move with a confident curling finish.
Chris Wood finally found the target for Burnley with a back-post header from an Ashley Westwood cross in the 80th minute but Burnley were unable to force an equaliser.
On Thursday, Liverpool look to pick things up where they left off in 2019 having gone 19 matches unbeaten in the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp’s side sits atop the table with games in hand and face Sheffield United at Anfield.
The Merseyside team have only dropped two points so far this season due to a draw with arch-rivals Manchester United.
It is a string of tightly packed fixtures for Liverpool, who will have to see of Chris Wilder’s side before taking on cross-city rivals Everton in the FA Cup on January 5.