April 19, 2024

Julio Enciso’s screamer helped Brighton to their first-ever league win at Chelsea, strengthening their claim for European football next season with a 2-1 comeback victory at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues’ latest setback – their fourth Premier League game without a win – leaves Frank Lampard’s side languishing in the bottom-half ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League second leg with Real Madrid.

Brighton had been denied in defeat by a series of VAR calls at Tottenham last weekend and while they saw two more penalty shouts waved away in the first half on Saturday, this time they capitalised on their dominance to do the double over their hosts.

Enciso is just 19 but he scored a goal he will remember for the rest of his life on 69 minutes, rocketing a shot into the top corner from 30 yards before being held aloft in front of the away section by his team-mates.

He had hit the post from a tight angle a few minutes earlier, as Brighton maintained their first-half pressure, which had seen substitute Danny Welbeck head in a deserved equaliser after Conor Gallagher’s deflected opener.

It was a statement display from Roberto De Zerbi’s side, who had delivered a similar signal of their trajectory when they thrashed Chelsea 4-1 in October.

The fortuitous Gallagher strike ended a Chelsea goal drought which had stretched to six hours and 27 minutes but their issues all over the pitch were on show, with the visitors out-shooting them by 24 efforts to seven. It is going to take a substantial transformation in performance levels if they are to overturn their 2-0 deficit against Real Madrid.

In the Premier League, the result leaves Chelsea 11th, closer to the bottom in terms of points than fourth. But Brighton – who also hit the bar early on through Evan Ferguson before he was injured – are just seven points off Man Utd, who occupy that final Champions League qualifying spot. They face United at Wembley next Sunday in the FA Cup semi-final and must not be written off on this evidence.

Chelsea are back in action on Tuesday when they face Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final while their next Premier League game is on Wednesday April 26 when they host Brentford at Stamford Bridge

For Brighton, they have an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley to look forward to. They face Manchester United on Sunday April 23 while in the Premier League, Brighton will make trip to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest on Wednesday April 26

Lampard, a Chelsea legend, has lost all his three games since taken over following the sack of Graham Potter early this month.

The results may have cemented Chelsea’s fate of European football next season unless they are able to overturn the 2:0 deficits against Real Madrid and go ahead to win the champions league this season.

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