Brighton 2-2 Southampton: James Ward-Prowse stunners rescue a point for Saints

 

James Ward-Prowse scored two stunning goals as Southampton came from behind to rescue a point at the Amex.

 

Brighton were cruising thanks to a second-minute strike from Danny Welbeck and Mohammed Salisu’s own goal late in the first half, with Saints full-back Tino Livramento also carried off with a serious-looking leg injury.

 

However, Ward-Prowse’s trademark free-kick on the cusp of half-time sparked the Southampton fightback, his 14th directly from a free-kick, second only to David Beckham (18) in the Premier League era.

 

After the break, he demonstrated his skills from open play with a fierce low drive that fizzed past Robert Sanchez bring his side level and take him to 10 goals for the season.

 

Southampton pushed for a winner against their shell-shocked hosts but lacked creativity and were relieved that Pascal Gross’s late strike was ruled out for offside.

 

The point does mean Brighton match their record Premier League points tally of 41 and breaks their run of five home games without a goal.

 

South-coast sides struggle for consistency

The past eight days have typified Southampton’s season, an impressive win over Arsenal followed by a dismal defeat at Burnley and then finding themselves two goals down to Brighton.

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But, in Ward-Prowse, they have a player who is impressively reliable and continues to catch the eye for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.

 

The 27-year-old signed a long-term contract last summer but his outstanding long-distance shooting is sure to have some of the Premier League elite looking in his direction.

 

Losing to Brighton might have killed off Saints’ hopes of a top-half finish but the momentum given them by this comeback might just be what they need to leapfrog the likes of Newcastle and Leicester in their remaining four games.

 

As for Brighton, a season of great promise on the road has not been replicated at the Amex, with only Norwich and Watford having a poorer home record.

 

Wins at Arsenal and Spurs had put them within touching distance of the 41 points they have achieved in the last two campaigns.

 

They seemed to be on course for only their fourth home win of the season after an enterprising first half but lost their way in the face of Southampton’s revival.

 

Gross thought he had won it for Seagulls with 12 minutes to go, lashing home from outside the box but home celebrations proved premature.

 

Still, Potter will be pleased with the threat his side posed and confident that their record points tally, and highest Premier League finish, will be secured over the final stretch of the season.

 

Match report and free highlights as Brighton throw away two-goal lead to continue their winless run at home; James Ward-Prowse scores two stunning strikes for Saints; on-loan Chelsea defender Tino Livramento stretchered off with “very serious” knee injury

 

James Ward-Prowse scored twice from range to haul Southampton to a 2-2 draw with Brighton, who are still without a win at home in 2022.

 

Graham Potter’s men edged two goals ahead courtesy of an early Danny Welbeck strike and a Mohammed Salisu own goal but Saints skipper Ward-Prowse scored his 14th Premier League free-kick and then made it 2-2 with another fantastic effort.

 

Brighton thought they had won it late on when Pascal Gross rocketed in a shot from 25 yards but the VAR spotted he was offside in the build-up. It was a fantastic comeback from Southampton, who had lost Tino Livramento to a knee injury just before the break which required him to be stretchered off needing oxygen.

 

“It looks very serious,” said Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.

 

“He’s very down. We all know he’ll come back stronger.”

 

Despite beating Tottenham and Arsenal on the road, Brighton had lost four of their last five home Premier League games, all without scoring. That run of eight hours without a goal at the Amex was ended inside two minutes when Welbeck forced home from close range after some questionable defending from Salisu and goalkeeper Fraser Forster. It was Welbeck’s sixth goal against Southampton – the most he has scored in his career against the same opponent.

 

On-loan Chelsea man Livramento struck the woodwork for the Saints in their search for an equaliser and his luck did not improve when he was stretchered off after injuring his knee.

 

Brighton doubled their advantage when a Leandro Trossard pass in search of Welbeck was turned past his own goalkeeper by Salisu.

 

Potter’s team have won eight of their nine games when scoring first this season so a comeback looked unlikely – but Ward-Prowse had other ideas.

 

The England midfielder closed the gap to David Beckham’s 18-goal free-kick record in the Premier League when sending an intelligent finish from 22 yards into the bottom corner.

 

Saints were buoyant and laid siege to the Brighton goal after the break. A spell of domination was capped by a majestic Ward-Prowse strike from 22 yards, set up by an Oriel Romeu backheel. It was a magical goal.

 

Potter looked to his bench for inspiration and his changes took the game back in Brighton’s favour with Gross making his mark. The midfielder thought he had scored a dramatic winner, but a very close offside call cut short the celebrations, leaving Albion with just one win in their last 14 home matches.

 

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Brighton boss Graham Potter said: “I thought the performance was really good in the first half. We felt we deserved more than 2-1 at half time. Credit to the boys they dug in for the entire game. We struggled a bit at the start of the second half so in the end we take a point and be proud of the performance.

 

“We had a really good performance at home against Norwich but didn’t score so it was good to get the early goal. The crowd responded. We deserved to be 2-0 up at the break.”

 

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