Brighton dominates 10-player Sheffield United as Simon Adingra scores two goals.

Brighton dominates 10-player Sheffield United as Simon Adingra scores two goals.

The unpredictability of Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton is among their most endearing characteristics. Yes, they are very capable of horrid days, where querying their entire approach to football comes easily.

However, the team managed to captivate their audience with an impressive and skillful performance that left them in awe. Brighton’s game against Sheffield on Sunday was partly made possible by the hospitality of their gracious hosts. Yet, as the saying goes, playing against 10 players for a majority of the match can present one of the toughest challenges.

Yet what unfolded at Bramall Lane was akin to a training ground exercise: Premier League wins rarely come more easily. When Facundo Buonanotte and Danny Welbeck grabbed a pair of quickfire first-half goals, victory was all but assured. Much later, Jack Robinson’s own goal and a rapid Simon Adingra double simply added additional gloss.

“We demand six!” cheered the excited travelers. “We only want one,” came the solitary plea of a frustrated Sheffield United fan in reply.

Pascal Gross spent his afternoon precisely delivering pings, Kaoru Mitoma skillfully danced on the left, and Adingra did the same on the opposite side. The rest? Overwhelmed by numerous passes.

Chris Wilder will likely be most annoyed by the fact that Brighton has not performed well in their recent away matches. They have not won in their last six top-flight away games, which included a disappointing loss to Luton. United, who won last weekend at Kenilworth Road, had some glimmer of hope to hold onto.

At the start of the game, there was a glimmer of hope, but it quickly disappeared when Mason Holgate was ejected for a rough tackle on Mitoma. Despite the backlash from the crowd towards referee Stuart Atwell, his only error was initially pulling out a yellow card for Holgate’s offense. Thankfully, VAR Michael Oliver intervened and the card was upgraded. Mitoma was able to stay in the game.

De Zerbi took a diplomatic approach, claiming he had not yet had the chance to watch a replay. Wilder’s opinion was divided: “I’m conflicted,” he said. “As a competitor, I understand the physical nature of the game. However, some may argue that excessive force or rough play is no longer acceptable in the sport. Winning the ball and tackling aggressively may now be frowned upon.”

Following Holgate’s removal, Brighton acted swiftly and decisively to end the competition. Initially, from Gross’s corner kick, Lewis Dunk headed the ball back towards the goal and Buonanotte guided it over the goal line. Barely.

For his next cross, Gross plucked a pitching wedge from his bag and delivered a deliciously inviting ball for Mitoma. Wes Foderingham’s palm away was strong, but Welbeck’s follow-up ­volley was stronger still.

Brighton established a mesmerizing pattern of passing, while United understandably retreated with hopes of “staying in the game” until the final 10 minutes, as Wilder expressed.

The strategy was somewhat successful, but Brighton’s dominance was noticeable. However, just as United was about to bring in some offensive players, Brighton scored their third goal when Robinson’s attempt to intercept Mitoma’s pass went wrong.

Three quickly brought four and five. For his first, Adingra – back from a victorious trip to the Africa Cup of Nations – met a cross from Gross to finish superbly. Soon after, he beat Foderingham via a heavy ­Auston Trusty deflection.

“We executed a strategic game plan and comprehended the intricacies of the game,” exclaimed De Zerbi. “To me, that is more significant than the quantity of goals scored. The players recognized the challenges of playing with one less player on the field.”

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United experienced another tough game this season, as Holgate’s departure led Wilder and Alan Knill to make a strategic decision to replace their only starting attacker, William Osula, with Trusty for defensive support. This decision reflects the challenging circumstances the team is facing.

Ben Osborn gave hope to the home fans with a goal from a corner right before halftime, sparking thoughts of a potential comeback. However, their excitement was short-lived as the referee initially called a foul, but upon further review from the pitchside monitor, the goal was overturned for being offside.

At the very least, United had displayed some resilience at that moment. Although not all of their efforts were well-focused, Vini Souza appeared particularly determined to confront any obstacles in his way. Despite the unfavorable conditions, there was a glimmer of energy within the team.

At the end, the home fans who stayed until the very end could barely find the energy to boo. They know that United will be going through the motions for months to come.

Brighton’s prospects, though, are much more cheery. Soon, attention will turn again to the pursuit of silverware and to European travels.

Danny Welbeck scores Brighton’s second against Sheffield UnitedView image in fullscreen