Mauricio Pochettino admitted Moises Caicedo’s international commitments with Ecuador have complicated the midfielder’s early Chelsea career.

The club paid a British record £115million to sign the 22-year-old from Brighton in August but frequent trips to South America to play for his country have limited the time he has been able to spend working with coaching staff at Cobham.

He has played 14 times in all competitions since his arrival, recovering from a red card on his first appearance against West Ham to become a steady if not yet spectacular performer in the heart of midfield.

Since joining Chelsea he has been called up three times by Ecuador and played in six matches, with each international window requiring a more than 11,000-mile round trip, sometimes not arriving back in London until the early hours of the day before Chelsea’s next game.

He revealed in an interview with the club’s website this week that he spent much of his first 10 days in England alone in a hotel room in tears and suffering from homesickness, after joining the Seagulls from Independiente del Valle in his home country in January 2021 during the Covid pandemic.

Restrictions on movement for people arriving into the UK meant he was unable to meet his Brighton team-mates until completing a period of quarantine, during which he phoned his parents in Ecuador asking to return home.

He recovered to become one of the standout successes of the team that Roberto De Zerbi led to a club-best sixth-placed Premier League finish last campaign, sparking a bidding war between Liverpool and Chelsea in which Pochettino’s side were victorious.

The manager reiterated a call for patience as Caicedo navigates life at Chelsea amid a hectic World Cup qualifying schedule internationally.

“When we signed him we knew what is going to happen,” said Pochettino. “He’s an emotional guy, an emotional player that needs time to recover.

“It didn’t help also the international games, travelling to Ecuador, to South America. That is really tough every single month, two or three weeks then go 10, 12 days away, then come back sometimes with some injury.

“It’s not an excuse but it’s the reality. Now we need time. Of course I say (the team) always need to perform. That is our mentality. But in some situations like his, we need to give time and not to be unfair in the way that we assess him.”

Caicedo has formed a reliable partnership in midfield with Enzo Fernandez, who the club paid a then-British record £107m to sign from Benfica in January while Graham Potter was in charge.

Pochettino revealed that the Argentinian World Cup winner asked for extra time off during the summer due to fatigue and was granted permission to join up late with the squad on their United States tour.

“It’s different because Enzo arrived last January, he was with different coaches here,” said the manager. “He asked when we arrived for a period of holiday because he was tired after the World Cup and everything. He joined us in North Carolina.

“I cannot judge the past. Only I can talk from when we arrived (at Chelsea). We expect all, not only (these two), all the players, even the ones not too much involved, to push their level.”

Captain Lewis Dunk says Brighton are dreaming of Europa League glory after securing a spot in the knockout stages on a historic day for the club.

Albion guaranteed a top-two finish in Group B with a game to spare thanks to an unconvincing 1-0 victory away to 10-man AEK Athens.

Joao Pedro’s 55th-minute penalty proved the difference against the Greek champions as the Seagulls set aside a disjointed display to progress ahead of a final-round fixture at home to Marseille on December 14.

Defender Dunk is determined to finish in first place in the pool in order to advance directly to the last 16 and avoid a knockout round play-off against a team falling out of the Champions League.

“The next game, we’ve got to win, we’ve got to top the group,” he told Brighton’s website. “I think that’s massive, you miss a round out.

“That’s our next aim in this competition but who knows how far we can go?

“We want to win it and you’ve got to dream big to achieve it. We’re going to set our sights on reaching the final and winning it.”

Brighton, who are enjoying their maiden European adventure, were second best in the first half at AEK Arena and fortunate not to fall behind when Steven Zuber’s shot deflected off Dunk and struck a post.

The contest turned during a pivotal 10-minute second-half spell in which Pedro converted a VAR-awarded penalty after being fouled by AEK captain Damian Szymanski and Mijat Gacinovic was dismissed for a second booking.

Following back-to-back successes over four-time European champions Ajax, Albion jubilantly celebrated another famous win with the travelling fans.

England international Dunk, who made his senior debut when the Seagulls were a League One side, acknowledged the visitors were forced to dig deep.

“It’s massive,” the 32-year-old said of the result. “I think you can see in the celebration at the end what it means.

“It’s a historic day for the football club.

“We came into this tournament to qualify out of the group and we’ve done that tonight.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of our performances but sometimes you’ve got to win like that and it’s all credit to us.”

Pedro’s successful spot-kick was his fifth goal in the competition and backed up his match-winning brace as a substitute in Saturday’s 3-2 Premier League victory at Nottingham Forest.

Dunk, whose right shoulder was taped up at full-time, was sent off at the City Ground and will miss Sunday’s trip to Chelsea due to suspension.

“(I’m) just nursing a few injuries but you just get on with them,” he replied when asked about the strapping.

“Frustrating not to be out there (at Stamford Bridge), it’s my fault and I’ve got to deal with that myself.”

Brighton secured a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League after Joao Pedro’s second-half penalty earned an unconvincing 1-0 victory away to 10-man AEK Athens.

In-form forward Pedro converted his fifth goal of the competition in the 55th minute to guarantee the Seagulls a top-two finish in Group B.

Albion were second best before the VAR-awarded spot-kick and fortunate not to fall behind in the closing stages of the first half when AEK forward Steven Zuber struck a post.

The lively hosts were forced to play the final 25 minutes a man down following Mijat Gacinovic’s dismissal for a second yellow card.

Roberto De Zerbi’s men will vie for first place in the pool – and automatic qualification for the last 16 – when Marseille visit the Amex Stadium in the final round of fixtures in two weeks’ time.

Brighton’s maiden European campaign was launched with an underwhelming 3-2 defeat to the Greek champions in September.

Yet the Premier League club arrived at the AEK Arena in control of their own destiny thanks to a battling comeback draw in Marseille and back-to-back wins over Ajax.

Head coach De Zerbi made four changes from Saturday’s 3-2 success at Nottingham Forest, including recalling match-winner Pedro, and saw his injury-hit side start in the ascendancy.

Evan Ferguson was twice blocked as he threatened inside two minutes, while AEK defender Domagoj Vida came close to a calamitous own goal with a firm back pass which had goalkeeper Cican Stankovic scampering across his line.

But the disjointed Seagulls faded from the encouraging start and were in regular danger of falling behind.

AEK forward Zuber forced Albion keeper Bart Verbruggen to turn over a powerful drive before heading narrowly wide from the resultant corner.

Brighton were then lucky not to concede just before the break amid relentless home pressure.

Switzerland international Zuber worked space inside the 18-yard box with quick feet before seeing his angled drive deflect off Lewis Dunk and rattle the left post, with Gacinovic unable to head home the rebound.

Verbruggen was forced to save from Gacinovic after the restart before Brighton snatched the lead against the run of play during a pivotal spell in the contest.

Swiss referee Sandro Scharer initially waved play on when Pedro went to ground under pressure from AEK captain Damian Szymanski before pointing to the spot after viewing a replay of the incident on the pitch-side monitor.

Brazilian forward Pedro duly dispatched his sixth penalty of the season – and third against AEK – by sending Stankovic the wrong way from 12 yards to back up his weekend brace at Forest as a substitute.

Brighton had barely threatened before the opener and their cause was further strengthened just 10 minutes later when Serbia midfielder Gacinovic over-ran the ball and raked his studs into Joel Veltman to receive a second booking.

Seagulls striker Ferguson threatened to double the lead before being repelled as he tried to round Stankovic having been sent clear.

AEK midfielder Orbelin Pineda then flashed wide as the home side pushed for a leveller but Brighton, despite an uninspiring display, held on relatively comfortably to ensure their European adventure continues.

Brighton broke a Premier League record with Saturday’s 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest, their 17th consecutive game in which both teams have scored.

Here, the PA news agency looks at Roberto De Zerbi’s free-flowing side.

Goals galore

After beating Arsenal 3-0 in May, the Seagulls’ final four games of last season began the ongoing sequence.

They lost 4-1 to Newcastle, beat Southampton 3-1, drew 1-1 with champions Manchester City and closed out the season with a 2-1 loss to Aston Villa.

They opened the new campaign with 4-1 wins over Luton and Wolves before their next four games all finished 3-1 – defeat to West Ham followed by wins over Newcastle, Manchester United and Bournemouth.

Even during the six-match winless run that followed, they scored in each – losing 6-1 to Villa and 2-1 at City and drawing 2-2 with Liverpool and 1-1 against Fulham, Everton and Sheffield United.

That matched Everton’s previous record of 16 successive games between September 2012 and January 2013, and Evan Ferguson’s 26th-minute equaliser against Forest broke the record before Joao Pedro’s double secured three points.

Thirteen games is also the longest such run from the start of a season, comfortably beating the record of nine by Middlesbrough in 2000-01 and Leicester on their way to the 2015-16 title.

Roberto’s revolution

Since De Zerbi succeeded Graham Potter last season, Brighton rank fourth in Premier League goals scored with 89.

They have  found the back of the net in 29 successive games since losing 1-0 to Fulham in February and 41 out of 45 since the Italian started as he meant to go on with a 3-3 draw against Liverpool.

Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have longer scoring runs in the Premier League era. The latter pair each have a longest run of 36 so should Brighton score in their next seven games up to January 2 against West Ham, only Arsenal would rank ahead of them with a record of 55.

With 71 conceded under De Zerbi, Albion rank joint fourth-highest in that time behind Bournemouth (80), Tottenham (73) and Forest (72). They are alongside Wolves, who have played two games fewer, and Everton.

Unsurprisingly, Brighton’s games are the highest-scoring in the Premier League since De Zerbi took over – 160 total goals is 10 clear of nearest challengers Spurs. His side rank seventh in points and sixth in goal difference.

Sharing the goals around

Brighton’s top-scorer under De Zerbi is Ferguson with just 12 goals.

That 13.5 per cent share is the lowest of any Premier League club’s top scorer in that time and demonstrates Brighton’s tendency to share the goals around.

They are one of only five teams with three players in double figures in the time since De Zerbi’s arrival, with Kaoru Mitoma and Solly March on 10 apiece.

Manchester City’s Erling Haaland has 39 league goals in that time, backed up by 12 from Phil Foden and 11 for Julian Alvarez. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (27) is joined by Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota, also on 12 and 11 respectively.

Newcastle have Callum Wilson on 23, Alexander Isak 15 and Miguel Almiron 12 while for Arsenal, Bukayo Saka has 17, Martin Odegaard 15 and Gabriel Martinelli 13.

Ten Seagulls have scored this season, with only Arsenal, Newcastle (13 each) and Manchester United (11) having more different scorers.

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi made no apology for celebrating his side’s 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest like they had won the Champions League final.

De Zerbi sprinted straight to the away fans at the City Ground, without shaking counterpart Steve Cooper’s hand, after his side ended a six-game winless run in a drama-filled Premier League encounter.

The Seagulls looked primed for an easy three points after a tidy finish from Evan Ferguson and Joao Pedro’s double, the second from the penalty spot, put them 3-1 up after Anthony Elanga’s early goal for Forest.

But the complexion of the game changed when VAR advised referee Anthony Taylor to give Forest a penalty, with Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk seeing red for his over-zealous protest.

Morgan Gibbs-White scored from the spot but Forest could not find a leveller and Brighton held on for a much-needed win, which moves them into the top seven.

“I want to explain our celebration, it wasn’t disrespectful to the opponent because I am used to living inside of football, but we are suffering a lot with injuries, we lost two players in the first half, we suffered a red card, we lost two points in the last games against Sheffield United and Fulham, the last win in the Premier League was at the end of September.

“We are suffering a lot because it is one of the toughest times in my career. It was a big, big celebration.

“We are very happy and I am very proud of the character and attitude we showed in a very tough moment. Without 10 players if Brighton can compete in two competitions, seventh in the league, and in the Europa League with Ajax, AEK Athens and Marseille, it is difficult.

“We celebrated it like the final in the Champions League, it was not the Champions League, but the way we won the game with 10 players without the captain was excellent.”

Dunk received a straight red card for foul and abusive language following Taylor’s decision to award Forest a penalty, which came 21 seconds after he was booked for encroaching while Taylor checked the VAR monitor.

De Zerbi admitted Dunk apologised to his team-mates but will not face any internal disciplinary action.

“I have not spoken yet with Lewis, he is a good guy, maybe he made a mistake,” De Zerbi added. “For me the situation is not clear. We have to accept the referee’s decision.

“I always accept the referee’s decision. Dunky is a fan of Brighton, he is not a simple player. We can understand his emotion and his mistakes.

“I don’t like rules. I am not a policeman, I am coach. He said sorry to everyone, he has understood his mistake.”

Forest boss Cooper said would have liked the opportunity to shake De Zerbi’s hand at full-time.

“I have not seen him. I don’t want to get into that, to be fair,” he said.

“If you ask me I am a British coach, I have been brought up in always shaking hands after games and showing respect and trying to win and lose with dignity.

“I am not saying he has not done that, you’ll have to ask him. If you ask me about what I will do, I will always shake hands.

“But I understand that elsewhere it is a bit different. That is how it is.”

Ten-man Brighton ended their six-game winless run in the Premier League by beating Nottingham Forest 3-2 in a drama-filled encounter at the City Ground.

Injuries and their Europa League exertions had caught up with the Seagulls as they last won against Bournemouth at the end of September, but they put that right in testing circumstances.

They fell behind to Anthony Elanga’s early opener but were in total control after Evan Ferguson’s fine goal and Joao Pedro’s double put them 3-1 up.

But the complexion of the game changed when VAR advised referee Anthony Taylor to give Forest a penalty, with Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk seeing red for his over-zealous protest.

Morgan Gibbs-White scored from the spot but Forest could not find a leveller and Brighton held on for a much-needed win, which keeps them on the shoulder of the top seven.

For Forest this was a first home defeat in the Premier League since April and with just one win in the last nine games, boss Steve Cooper might be starting to feel the pressure.

His side enjoyed the perfect start as they went ahead inside the opening three minutes.

Gibbs-White picked the ball up on the right and surged forward before sending in a cross which was perfect for Elanga to head back across goal into the far corner.

It could have been a platform for Forest to build on but they did not take the opportunity and the visitors began to get a foothold in the game.

The hosts created their first chance in the 18th minute when Billy Gilmour was teed up on the edge of the penalty area, but he shot straight at Odysseas Vlachodimos.

Ferguson made no such mistake in the 26th minute as he pulled Brighton level with a fine finish.

Pascal Gross fizzed a ball into him on the edge of the area, he took a touch and then curled a sublime finish into the bottom corner.

The Seagulls continued to look the better side and went ahead in first-half added time.

Pedro ghosted in late to meet Gross’ cross with a thumping header as the £30million-man scored for the first time in the league since September.

Things got even better for Brighton just before the hour as they made it 3-1 from the penalty spot.

Chris Wood needlessly tugged Pedro to the floor and the striker picked himself up and converted with ease.

The drama arrived in the 69th minute as Callum Hudson-Odoi was barged over by Jack Hinshelwood, though referee Taylor chose not to award the penalty.

He was advised to check his pitchside monitor by VAR official Graham Scott and subsequently changed his decision.

Seagulls captain Dunk did not take the news well and earned two yellow cards in the space of 21 seconds for dissent but took much longer before he eventually left the field.

After some pushing and shoving in the penalty area, Gibbs-White kept his calm to convert the penalty almost seven minutes after the foul was awarded.

That set up a grandstand finish and Forest thought they had snatched a point in the last minute of 10 added on but Bart Verbruggen palmed away Ryan Yates’ header.

Luton have been fined £120,000 by the Football Association and issued with a two-year action plan after their fans’ homophobic chanting at Brighton on the opening day of the season.

The Hatters, promoted to the top flight for the first time in 31 years in May, have accepted the charge and said any fans identified will be banned by the club.

An FA Statement said: “An independent Regulatory Commission has imposed an action plan and £120,000 fine on Luton Town for misconduct in relation to crowd control at their game against Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday 12 August 2023.

“Luton Town admitted that they failed to ensure their spectators and/or supporters (and anyone purporting to be supporters or followers) conduct themselves in an orderly fashion; and do not use words or otherwise behave in a way which is improper, offensive, abusive, indecent, or insulting with either express or implied reference to sexual orientation.”

Luton said they were “an inclusive, family-oriented club” which “abhors abusive chanting such as this and has a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination of all kinds”.

The club said they will continue to promote the ‘Love Football. Protect The Game’ campaign and added: “Those involved were committing a criminal offence and anyone subsequently identified will be issued with a club ban and face potential police investigation.

“Luton Town has worked with supporters in recent seasons to help form the Rainbow Hatters supporters’ group for members of the LGBTQ+ community, who meet regularly to share their experiences of watching the Hatters.

“We will work further with supporter groups to educate and inform on all forms of discriminatory acts to ensure that watching Luton Town is a safe and welcoming experience for everyone.”

Roberto De Zerbi admitted he does not like “80 per cent of Premier League referees” after 10-man Brighton were held to a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.

Simon Adingra had put the Seagulls ahead with a brilliant solo run but the game changed on Mahmoud Dahoud’s red card in the 69th minute.

Midfielder Dahoud stamped on Ben Osborn’s Achilles, with Adam Webster putting through his own goal moments later to take the Blades off the bottom of the table for the first time since September 23.

De Zerbi, who was also booked for his touchline antics, did not disagree with the red card shown by John Brooks but said: “I am honest and clear… I don’t like 80 per cent of English referees.

“That isn’t a new opinion. I don’t like them. I don’t like their behaviour on the pitch.

“England is the only country where when there is VAR, you are not sure that the decision is right. In other countries, you have to be sure 100 per cent that the decision taken is right. In England, no, and I am not able to understand.”

De Zerbi is now on his longest run without a league win as Brighton manager, with his side six matches without taking three points.

“We are spending time in an unlucky period,” said the Italian. “I think we have lost four points; two against Fulham and two today.

“After the red card, I didn’t like the team.

“There wasn’t a game until the red card. There was only one team on the pitch. Brighton could have won the game two or three nil, but after the red card the game changed.

“After the red card we can say other things but the situation with one player less, we lost order and our style.”

Adingra went on a mazy run before finishing after a give-and-go with Facundo Buonanotte in the fifth minute. But after the red card, Jayden Bogle’s powerful cross was diverted into his own goal by Webster.

It was the first time United had strung two games without defeat together in the top flight since July 2020 – not that Paul Heckingbottom is worried after a first away point of the season and getting off the bottom.

He said: “It is irrelevant – maybe getting off the bottom is important because people keep mentioning it but I’m not bothered. Not yet.

“What is pleasing is how we’ve played against a good team.

“It is always about the points. I can give lots of reasons why we haven’t picked up more points this season: the way we started the season, final moments in games where we could and should have.

“But until you get them they are just excuses. It is about the points and we want to keep picking up the points.

“There have been moments in every game but in the last two games it has been us being the stronger team at the end and that is what I want to see. It gives us a huge lift.”

Adam Webster’s own goal condemned Roberto De Zerbi to his worst league run with Brighton as Sheffield United escaped the bottom of the table with a 1-1 draw against 10-man Albion.

Simon Adingra had put the Seagulls ahead with a brilliant solo run but Mahmoud Dahoud’s red card saw momentum shift before Webster slid into his own goal.

Brighton, who beat European giants Ajax on Thursday, are now winless in the Premier League in six matches, the longest boss De Zerbi has gone without a victory since arriving on the south coast last year.

The Blades almost took an unlikely second-minute lead when Gustavo Hamer intercepted Jan Paul van Hecke’s pass across his own box but his header travelled narrowly wide.

Four minutes later, Dahoud’s through ball released Ansu Fati who excitingly beat two defenders but his shot lacked power and was easily stopped by Wes Foderingham.

The warning was not heeded as two minutes later Adingra picked up the ball 35 yards from goal on the left touchline. He shrugged off two tackles and played a one-two with Facundo Buonanotte before slotting past Foderingham.

It was the Ivorian’s fourth goal of the season and the 28th straight league game the Seagulls have scored – the Blades winless in the last 20 Premier League matches they had shipped first.

Brighton manager De Zerbi, who had given a call to action to supporters before the match, celebrated by jumping into the crowd in delight.

Fati – making his first league start since arriving on loan from Barcelona – again found a gap down the middle to expose but his toe-poke was simple for Foderingham to deal with, before Buonanotte and Billy Gilmour went close.

United showed a threat at the end of the first half but George Baldock’s lashed shot was the closest they came to scoring.

Joao Pedro shot over almost immediately after coming on at the break, Van Hecke nodded a corner into the ground and over, Kaoru Mitoma’s raid to the byline saw his near-post shot blocked and Dahoud’s effort from range was battered behind.

But in the 69th minute, the character of the game changed when Dahoud was dismissed for stamping on Ben Osborn’s Achilles. Referee John Brooks has now given four red cards this season, more than any of his colleague – not that there was any controversy with this decision.

Four minutes later and United were level. Jayden Bogle smashed a ball across the face of goal and Webster put through his own goal, with Cameron Archer waiting behind for a tap-in.

All of Brighton’s last 16 matches have seen both teams scoring – equalling Everton’s Premier League record – with the 12 since the start of the campaign last achieved in the top flight by Liverpool in the 1966-67 season.

Bogle dragged an effort narrowly wide and Luke Thomas blazed over but the Blades could not find a second late winner in a row to follow their stoppage-time success against Wolves.

Highly-rated striker Evan Ferguson has signed a new contract with Brighton which ties him to the club until 2029.

The 19-year-old Republic of Ireland international has extended his existing deal with the Seagulls, amid reports that other Premier League clubs were tracking his progress.

“Evan deserves this new contract and he has a very big future ahead of him,” Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi said.

Ferguson joined Brighton from Irish side Bohemians in January 2021 and made his first-team debut later that year in a Carabao Cup tie against Cardiff.

He has scored 15 times for the first team since then, having opened his account against Arsenal last December.

Brighton technical director David Weir said: “Evan is a brilliant young talent and we are delighted for him.

“He’s shown his ability at club and international level, after breaking into the team at the start of the year, and we are looking forward to working with him and watching his continued progress.”

Ferguson made his senior Ireland debut in March, scoring in a 3-2 win over Latvia.

Roberto De Zerbi admitted he is worried about Brighton’s growing injury problems after they took control of their Europa League destiny with a commanding 2-0 win away to Ajax.

Goals either side of half-time from Ansu Fati and Simon Adingra sealed victory in the Johan Cruyff Arena against the Dutch giants, who despite a change of manager showed little more ambition than they had in losing at the Amex Stadium two weeks previously.

But the result was marred by the loss of three players to injury as Lewis Dunk, James Milner and the returning Pervis Estupinan were all forced off.

De Zerbi has previously spoken of the toll that a first season in Europe has taken on his squad, with a hectic schedule having put pressure on a relatively small pool as the absentee list has lengthened.

Estupinan, who has already missed much of the campaign, left the field just 12 minutes after making his return as a substitute in the second half, with Milner also having gone off in the eighth minute.

Captain Dunk was withdrawn at half-time after pulling up with what looked like a groin problem, though the manager said he suspected it was not a serious concern.

Still, De Zerbi emphasised the havoc that injuries continue to wreak on his team.

“I’m very worried but it’s a problem we are fighting in this moment,” he said. “We have a lot of injuries, especially in the full-back position. For that we have to find another solution. We play Sunday another crucial game (against Sheffield United) for us and we want to win.

“I don’t know (about Dunk) at the moment. I think it’s not a big problem, but he’s played so many games in a row. We have to understand better the (injury).”

Despite the injuries, Brighton were able to celebrate yet another landmark under De Zerbi as they won for the first time away from home in Europe.

There were particularly fine displays in attack from goalscorers Fati and Adingra, whilst Evan Ferguson and Joao Pedro – the Europa League’s joint-top scorer at start of play with four – also impressed.

“I’m really delighted for the result, for the performance, for our fans,” said De Zerbi. “They were incredible and we are very happy because we made them happy.

“We have three top players – Ansu Fati, Joao Pedro and Evan Ferguson. We expect always a great job in ball possession, in the last 20 metres. But they are very young.

“Today I’m very happy for the performance of Joao. He fought 90 minutes. He didn’t score but he played a great game.

“I’m satisfied but I expect always more and more. For Ansu, he played very well in the first half but after the second goal I think he could play better. He could score the third goal.”

Brighton took control of their Europa League destiny with a commanding 2-0 win against Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena to complete back-to-back victories over the Dutch giants.

A goal in each half from Ansu Fati and Simon Adingra meant Roberto De Zerbi’s side moved into the qualification spots in Group B for the first time on their debut European campaign, with a performance that matched the ease with which they dispatched the four-time European champions at home two weeks earlier.

Since then, Ajax had appointed a new manager in John van’t Schip, but despite an uptick in domestic form it never looked like they had the firepower to unduly trouble Brighton, who could have won by a greater margin had Joao Pedro, Adingra and Fati not wasted good chances.

Despite their struggles this season, Ajax made the brighter start. After 13 minutes, Kristian Hlynsson found himself with space to drift into with the ball and shot from 25 yards, though it was a comfortable save from Bart Verbruggen.

The opening goal for Brighton was against the run of play, and came from an Ajax error. Silvano Vos was under little pressure in midfield but carelessly gave the ball to Adingra, who moved it calmly into the path of Fati to roll it beyond Diant Ramaj in the home side’s goal.

De Zerbi’s side kept their hosts largely at arm’s length for the remainder of the first period, coming to life in added time before the break when Fati looked to return Adingra’s favour in assisting his goal.

The pair linked up well down the right of Ajax’s box, but after a clever pass by the goalscorer Adingra’s shot to Ramaj’s near post was deflected behind off the legs of the goalkeeper.

Ajax had won twice in the Eredivisie since being beaten at the Amex Stadium two weeks previously, dragging themselves off the bottom of the league and into midtable.

Yet despite reaching half-time here having enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, they had rarely troubled Verbruggen as they sought a result to finally kick start their European campaign.

Pedro, the competition’s joint-top scorer at the start of play, danced through Ajax’s defence early in the second half a lashed an effort into the side netting. The Brazilian received a first senior national team call-up on Monday and was inches from marking it with a fifth Europa League goal of the campaign.

Instead it was Adingra who would double Brighton’s lead minutes later, timing his run perfectly to get on the end of Fati’s pass and unleashing an unstoppable, rising drive into Ramaj’s top corner.

Fati had the chance to get his second and Brighton’s third when Ramaj presented the ball to Karou Mitoma, Ajax saved from further embarrassment only by a poor touch from Fati as the pass was played in to him.

They came within inches of a lifeline 15 minutes from time. Brian Brobbey struck first time with his left foot as the ball arrived into the box, and his shot beat Verbruggen before hitting the post, rolling along the goal-line and striking the opposite upright.

It was to be as close as Ajax would come, as Brighton earned a first away win in Europe to cement their position in the group ahead of their final two games.

Jeremy Doku joined an exclusive club in Manchester City’s win over Bournemouth, with his four assists one of a host of Premier League records notched up over the weekend.

Jarrod Bowen and Brighton also made bits of history and here, the PA news agency looks at the landmarks headlined by Doku’s virtuoso display.

Four-assist club

Doku inspired the 6-1 thumping of Bournemouth, scoring the first goal and then setting up Bernardo Silva, twice, and Phil Foden as well as seeing a shot deflect in off Manuel Akanji.

Doku is the eighth man – and, at 21, the youngest – to record four assists in a single Premier League game, a feat first achieved by former Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp when he set up Ray Parlour’s brace and two of Nicolas Anelka’s hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Leicester in 1999.

The Gunners dominate the list, with Jose Antonio Reyes feeding Thierry Henry, twice, Philippe Senderos and Aleksandr Hleb in 2006’s 7-0 win over Middlesbrough and an imperious Cesc Fabregas setting up the first three, scoring the fourth and laying on the fifth for Theo Walcott in a 6-2 win over Blackburn in 2009.

Emmanuel Adebayor had left Arsenal and returned to north London with Tottenham before he joined the four-assist club in 2012, setting up the first four before scoring himself to round off a 5-0 win over Newcastle.

Santi Cazorla added to the Arsenal contingent in the following season’s 4-1 win over Wigan and Spurs striker Harry Kane remarkably set up Son Heung-min four times before scoring the fifth in 2020’s 5-2 win at Southampton.

Paul Pogba provided the first entry from outside north London in Manchester United’s 5-1 opening-day defeat of Leeds in 2021 and Doku ensured both sides of Manchester are now represented.

Other landmarks

West Ham winger Bowen’s goal at Brentford extended his run of scoring in every away game to a Premier League-record six matches from the start of a season.

The England international opened the scoring in a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth and netted the Hammers’ second in a 3-1 win at Brighton before setting them on their way to a 2-1 success at Luton.

They have lost all three away games since but that is not down to Bowen, who scored as they went down 3-1 at Liverpool and 4-1 at Aston Villa and put them 2-1 up in Saturday’s eventual 3-2 loss.

The former Hull star has only one league goal at the London Stadium this term, in the 2-0 win over Sheffield United, and another in the Carabao Cup win over Arsenal.

Brighton’s games have all seen goals for both teams – they have beaten Luton and Wolves 4-1 and Newcastle, Manchester United and Bournemouth 3-1, lost 3-1 to the Hammers, 6-1 at Villa and 2-1 to Manchester City and drawn 2-2 with Liverpool and 1-1 with Fulham and now Everton.

Eleven games is the longest such run from the start of a season, beating the record of nine by Middlesbrough in 2000-01 and Leicester on their way to the 2015-16 title.

The Seagulls’ last four results of last season were 1-4, 3-1, 1-1 and 1-2, leaving them one away from Everton’s all-time Premier League record of 16 consecutive games in which both teams have scored.

That was set between September 2012 and January 2013 and featured eight draws – five 1-1s and three 2-2s. It ended with back-to-back goalless draws against Swansea and Southampton.

Both Sean Dyche and Roberto De Zerbi declared themselves satisfied with a point from the 1-1 draw at Goodison Park but the Everton manager had more cause to rue a missed opportunity than his Brighton counterpart.

Having taken a seventh-minute lead through Vitalii Mykolenko’s first goal in 18 months the hosts put up a resilient defensive performance against opponents who enjoyed 80 percent possession.

But just when it appeared they had secured a sixth win in eight games, Kaoru Mitoma’s cross deflected wickedly off Ashley Young and looped over goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

“It is definitely a point gained, they are a very good outfit,” said Dyche.

“Obviously we are very unfortunate with a massive deflection after them not having many chances at all.

“I thought the tactical side of the game was fantastic from the players.”

When Dyche reflects on the game he will see it more as two points dropped as he felt his side should have had a second-half penalty while still leading when Dominic Calvert-Lewin was wrestled to the ground by Jan Paul van Hecke.

“I know, because I was a centre-half, he (Van Hecke) is the wrong side of him. I think you do things like that because you have that moment when you think ‘He is in’,” Dyche added.

“That is a really important call and it went against us but I don’t know how it went against us because I thought it was obvious.

“I’m bound to say that, but when people see it I’ll be surprised if they didn’t think there was certainly a big suggestion of that being wrong.

“I’m not saying it is an absolute but it is a long way to being a decision which should have been given in my opinion.”

Despite the draw, Brighton’s malaise continues as they have not won a Premier League match since September and despite dominating they managed just two shots on target, neither of which was the goal.

“It’s an important point. We are not playing well like a month ago but there are many reasons for it,” said De Zerbi.

“It’s not a very brilliant moment for us but in many ways we are fighting. I think we played a good game, we didn’t shoot enough to win the game and the result is fair.

“I’m happy for the point. I am proud of the performance. We are fighting but we are not in the best moment.”

Ashley Young’s unfortunate own goal denied Everton a sixth win in eight matches as Brighton snatched a late 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

Defender Vitalii Mykolenko looked like being an unlikely match-winner with his first goal in 18 months until Kaoru Mitoma’s cross took a freakish deflection off the Toffees’ other full-back with six minutes remaining.

Having taken the lead, Everton had done a good job of keeping the visitors at bay – assisted by VAR ruling out Lewis Dunk’s equaliser for offside and also a good save by Jordan Pickford to deny the Seagulls captain – and Sean Dyche’s side looked well set for their first back-to-back Premier League wins in 13 months.

It says a lot about how perspectives have changed in the last few weeks that Everton were disappointed with a draw against a team who finished sixth last season, but in the see-saw world of the Premier League the Merseysiders remain upwardly mobile while Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi is still trying to work out why his team cannot convert possession into points.

The Seagulls’ last top-flight victory on September 24 lifted them to third in the table on 15 points; the same weekend Everton won their first game to move out of the bottom three with four points.

Brighton, who have taken just three points from the last 15 available, enjoyed 90 percent possession in the opening 10 minutes but Everton had already managed three shots on target, two of those from Mykolenko in the attack which led to his goal.

The other was a volley from Abdoulaye Doucoure, fresh from signing a new contract, which was parried by Bart Verbruggen who had replaced Jason Steele in goal as one of five changes.

Mykolenko showed a proficiency in front of goal not seen before as his left-foot strike from Dwight McNeil’s cross was parried by Verbruggen only for the defender to lash home only his second goal for the club with his weaker right foot in the seventh minute.

The Ukraine international last found the net towards the end of his debut season in May 2022.

With the pattern of the game firmly established – Brighton ended the game with 80 percent possession – it was set up for an Everton rearguard action and that played right into their hands, with James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite again excellent against Evan Ferguson, with Mykolenko providing admirable support.

Everton looked to have been breached by Dunk’s brilliant volleyed equaliser at the far post from Pascal Gross’s 15th-minute free-kick only for VAR to intervene as the Seagulls began their long dominance of the ball, although they remained uncharacteristically careless with it and that offered Everton encouragement.

As a result, Dominic Calvert-Lewin found himself in a two-on-two but dragged a shot wide with Doucoure in support, while Joel Veltman’s tangle with McNeil in the penalty area was deemed accidental by referee Tim Robinson.

Joao Pedro’s second-half introduction for Adam Lallana gave Brighton a better option going forward but even then they did not properly threaten, with Pickford’s first genuine save coming in the 55th minute when he tipped over Dunk’s free-kick.

But he could not reach the wickedly dipping ball which sailed over him from Mitoma via Young.

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