London (AFP) – Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s spectacular overhead kick earned Brighton a share of the points against Chelsea and dampened Frank Lampard’s New Year celebrations on Wednesday as Aston Villa secured a vital win against Burnley.
Kicking off a packed day of top-flight action, Chelsea’s 1-1 draw on England’s south coast meant they missed out on the chance to pull seven points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United in the race to secure Champions League football for next season.
Cesar Azpilicueta gave the visitors an early lead, tapping in from close range following a corner in the 10th minute but Brighton were never out of it and pulled level in the 84th minute courtesy of Jahanbakhsh’s moment of magic.
Chelsea were quickly on top from the start of the match but Brighton came into the contest as it wore on, enjoying a spell of possession towards the end of the first half.
Leandro Trossard tested Kepa Arrizabalaga with a powerful strike but the Chelsea goalkeeper parried the shot with his right hand.
Lampard’s team were again dominant after the break. Christian Pulisic came close to doubling Chelsea’s lead at Brighton after 55 minutes while N’Golo Kante and Reece James were denied.
But Brighton kept battling and Kepa was forced to produce an outstanding save from Aaron Connolly in the 80th minute as the home side pushed for an equaliser.
Their persistence paid off minutes later. Lewis Dunk kept the ball alive from a corner-kick and Iranian midfielder Jahanbakhsh acrobatically found the bottom-left corner to give his team share of the points.
In the other early kick-off, Villa beat Burnley 2-1 despite seeing Jack Grealish’s opening goal controversially chalked off by VAR.
Wesley put Villa ahead in the 27th minute and captain Grealish doubled his side’s advantage four minutes before the break as his powerful effort found the top corner.
Chris Wood pulled a goal back for Burnley with 10 minutes to go.
Second-placed Leicester take on Newcastle later on Wednesday, with Tottenham and Wolves, also chasing Champions League football next season, also in action.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are hosting Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton in one of the early evening matches before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United kick off against Arsenal in the late match.
Runaway leaders Liverpool face Sheffield United on Thursday.
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