Kaoru Mitoma strikes late again as Brighton deny battling Bournemouth

Kaoru Mitoma scored another late winner for Brighton to secure a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth in the Premier League

Scoring late winners is starting to become something of a knack for Kaoru Mitoma. Six days after his wonder strike knocked holders Liverpool out of the FA Cup, the Japan winger was at it again as Brighton overcame a dogged display from a Bournemouth team fighting for their life against relegation to maintain their own remarkable push for Europe.

By Mitoma’s recent standards, this had been a relatively quiet afternoon until the last five minutes as the visitors frustrated Roberto De Zerbi’s side and could even have taken all three points had they been more clinical. Yet having now scored five goals in his last seven appearances, the 25-year-old who wrote his university thesis on the art of dribbling is the player making all the difference for Brighton at the moment as they moved to within two points of fifth-placed Tottenham.

“He didn’t play the best game in his life but he can always score. I can never substitute him - I wanted to give him a break but we knew he could score,” said a delighted De Zerbi. “We have to keep thinking positively and the next step is a big game against Crystal Palace.”

With Alexis Mac Allister serving a suspension, De Zerbi had resisted the temptation to recall Moisés Caicedo after his flirtation with Arsenal during the transfer window and instead left the Ecuador midfielder on the bench until the second half as his side chased the victory. He was greeted by loud cheers from the home supporters when he replaced Billy Gilmour just before the hour mark, with compatriot and fellow substitute Jeremy Sarmiento providing the cross for Mitoma to loop in his header in the dying minutes.

Meanwhile, January signings Dango Ouattara, Antoine Semenyo and Hamed Traorè impressed for the visitors, whose new American owner Bill Foley shelled out more than £70m on six new players in a bid to halt their rapid slide down the table. Bournemouth must have viewed this fixture with trepidation given Brighton’s recent form but they acquitted themselves well here and look capable of mounting a survival push over the coming months.

Kaoru Mitoma scores Brighton’s late winner
Mitoma scores Brighton’s late winner to extend his recent scoring form. Photograph: Ian Walton/Reuters

“We should have got something out of the game,” admitted Gary O’Neil. “We caused them some problems but didn’t take our opportunities.”

It took a well-timed challenge on the edge of his penalty area early on from Neto to stop Deniz Undav racing through after an excellent through ball from Tariq Lamptey. After a comedy of errors which began with the Bournemouth goalkeeper gifting possession to Undav and saw the Brighton striker have three attempts to score on his full Premier League debut, only to be denied by Chris Mepham, Neto and then the post, it seemed only a matter of time.

Yet a lightning quick break down the left flank that ended with Jefferson Lerma lashing just wide after being set up by Jaidon Anthony was a warning that Brighton might not have things all their own way. Ouattara could then consider himself very unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after going down under a challenge from Pervis Estupiñán but the VAR agreed with the referee Craig Pawson’s decision to O’Neil’s clear frustration. Danny Welbeck then headed Solly March’s pinpoint cross straight at Neto from point-blank range before just failing to divert a cross from Undav inside the post as Brighton finished the half strongly.

Caicedo was greeted by loud cheers from the home supporters when he replaced Gilmour just before the hour mark, with Sarmiento almost making an instant impact after coming on at the same time when he shot straight at Neto. De Zerbi was grateful for Estupiñán’s block to deny Semenyo after the Ghana striker had wriggled into the area yet his side struggled to create any clearcut chances of their own until the final minutes. Mitoma may have thought he had blown his chance when Neto saved his effort with five minutes left but it was Brighton who once again had the last laugh.


Ed Aarons at the Amex Stadium

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
David Brooks’s double seals win for Bournemouth over 10-man Brighton
Bournemouth beat south coast rivals Brighton 2-0 to end a poor run thanks to two goals from David Brooks

Paul MacInnes at the Vitality Stadium

22, Dec, 2018 @7:06 PM

Article image
Anthony Knockaert sees red as Bournemouth help Brighton self-destruct
Anthony Knockaert was sent off for reckless tackle on Adam Smith as Bournemouth end slump with 5-0 win over Brighton

Ed Aarons at the Amex Stadium

13, Apr, 2019 @4:07 PM

Article image
Tottenham unrest grows after Dango Ouattara’s late Bournemouth winner
Dango Ouattara’s last-gasp Bournemouth winner completed a 3-2 victory to stun Tottenham and rock their Champions League bid

John Brewin at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

15, Apr, 2023 @4:24 PM

Article image
Evan Ferguson’s late header rescues point for Brighton at Leicester
An equaliser from Evan Ferguson secured Brighton a 2-2 draw at Leicester, who had led through goals from Marc Albrighton and Harvey Barnes

John Brewin at the King Power Stadium

21, Jan, 2023 @5:10 PM

Article image
Brighton sink 10-man Wolves thanks to late Pascal Gross strike
Pascal Gross scored a late winner for Brighton in their 3-2 victory at Wolves, who had Nélson Semedo sent off

Will Unwin at Molineux

05, Nov, 2022 @5:13 PM

Article image
Richarlison and Capoue strikes reward battling Watford at Bournemouth
Marco Silva’s side overpowered Bournemouth in the second half to deservedly win 2-0, Etienne Capoue’s 25-yard strike sealing Watford’s victory

Paul MacInnes at the Vitality Stadium

19, Aug, 2017 @5:20 PM

Article image
Premier League 2022-23 fans’ verdicts, part one: Arsenal to Leeds
Fans review the season with one game to play: the stars, the flops and the moments that made them smile

Observer fans' network

28, May, 2023 @7:00 AM

Article image
Haaland on target again as Manchester City stroll to victory at Bournemouth
Julián Álvarez, Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and an own goal from Chris Mepham gave Manchester City a 4-1 win at Bournemouth

Ben Fisher at the Vitality Stadium

25, Feb, 2023 @7:37 PM

Article image
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling strikes again to sink Bournemouth
Manchester City moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League and Raheem Sterling hit the top of the scoring charts in a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth

Paul Wilson at the Etihad Stadium

01, Dec, 2018 @5:07 PM

Article image
Evan Ferguson’s brilliant backheel helps inspired Brighton win at Bournemouth
Evan Ferguson and a stoppage-time goal from Julio Enciso ensured Brighton maintained their top-four push with a 2-0 victory at Bournemouth

Ed Aarons at the Vitality Stadium

04, Apr, 2023 @9:16 PM