Sometimes the fastest goal can still be a long time coming. A landmark day for Brighton has the potential to prove a transformative occasion for the record buy who had looked an expensive embarrassment.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh belatedly opened his Albion account, 149 seconds into the game, but 16 months after his debut, and it was the quickest Brighton strike in their Premier League history.
Aaron Mooy brilliantly registered his first Seagulls goal and, after a solitary win in their previous eight games, Graham Potter’s side saw their progress rightly reflected in the result.
But Bournemouth’s seventh defeat in nine continued an injury-hit group’s plummet into relegation struggle. “A concern,” said manager Eddie Howe, but captain Steve Cook went further in his criticism. “I think they wanted it more than us,” said the defender. “We were flat and poor. The two teams were worlds apart and something has to change.”
Bournemouth were outclassed at a ground where they won 5-0 in April and the finest touches came courtesy of the magnificent Mooy. His goal was taken beautifully, drawing slightly hyperbolic comparisons with Dennis Bergkamp. The Australian chested down Leandro Trossard’s cross, beating a defender with a deft touch and lifting a finish into the net. He was both ubiquitous and unstoppable. Brighton were excellent.
“I am delighted with the performance,” said Potter.
The two managers made a combined 12 changes and Potter, who brought in seven outfield players, was rewarded for prioritising freshness over continuity. They were rewarded for starting at speed, while Bournemouth began in more sluggish fashion. “We were slow out of the traps,” said Howe, but Potter’s surprise selection justified his inclusion.
“Sometimes you get lucky with selections,” the Brighton manager said modestly. “Ali has been fighting to make an impact and he deserved his goal.”
Jahanbakhsh was the top scorer in the Eredivisie in his last season in Holland. The former club record buy’s drought in England spanned 27 games and if the failure of a £17 million signing formed part of the case for the prosecution of former manager Chris Hughton, Potter had only picked him for one previous league game.
He marked just his second start with a third-minute strike, drilled in from 16 yards, after being teed up by Neal Maupay. Overcome by emotion, Jahanbakhsh was in tears. “It was a great feeling after a long time,” he said. “It took longer than expected.”
He combined well with the influential Mooy. The Australian was effervescent and a reason why Brighton were brighter and better in midfield, overpowering Bournemouth.
Yves Bissouma was another and he hit the far post. Brighton had another near-miss when Dan Burn concluded a bout of penalty-box pinball by swivelling to volley in. The goal was overturned by VAR with the increasingly infamous ‘offside armpit’ the reason. “Gutted, but if it is offside it is offside,” said a philosophical Burn.
Brighton have made a habit of losing leads of late, but not this time. Josh King represented Bournemouth’s sole threat. Mat Ryan made one fine save from the Norwegian, but King and Jack Stacey came off with suspected hamstring injuries as Bournemouth finished with 10 men. “The second half was tough for us,” added Howe.
It also amounted to a demoralising day for Dominic Solanke. He was chosen with Callum Wilson rested, but this counted as another missed opportunity for a case of unrealised potential. The £19 million forward is approaching the one-year anniversary of his move to Bournemouth. This was his 29th appearance and he is still yet to score. At least Jakanbakhsh offers hope to one enduring a long wait.