Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi said he doesn’t “like 80% of English referees” after his side’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.
“I don’t like them … I don’t like their behaviour on the pitch”, said De Zerbi to the press, who felt that the red card shown to Mahmoud Dahoud was the wrong decision and completely changed the game.
He continued: “If I see the new rules, it’s a red card, but I think the dynamic of the situation, it is not a red card.”
With the Seagulls leading 1-0 Dahoud was sent off in the 69th minute for scraping down the back of Ben Osborn’s leg and just 5 minutes later Sheffield United equalised via an own goal from Adam Webster, who turned in Jayden Bogle’s low cross.
“There wasn’t a game until the red card, only one team on the pitch. Brighton could win the game two or three-nil and after the red card the game changes”, said De Zerbi.
Albion had initially taken the lead in the 6th minute after a magnificent run from Simon Adingra who darted from the left-hand touch line towards Sheffield United’s goal, executed a quick one-two with Facundo Buonanotte, before slotting home from 12 yards.
But they failed to capitalise on their early dominance, with Ansu Fati having a shot saved by Wes Foderingham before Buonanotte’s effort from a tight angle hit the side netting.
On the stroke of half-time, a sharp Foderingham save kept out Billy Gilmour’s magnificent 30-yard half-volley.
But Sheffield United stayed in it and were brighter in the second half, so deserved praise from their head coach Paul Heckingbottom.
“We showed a lot more calmness as the game went on … the second half I was pleased with all of it” said Heckingbottom to the press.
To BBC Sport he said: “It would have been lovely to get three points, but we can’t be greedy. It’s something to build on.
“In the last two games we’ve took points and it’s been the other team that’s been holding on.”
Even before the red card United had threatened, most notably from some good direct running by Cameron Archer down the left flank.
The sending off was still undoubtedly the turning point, giving United the impetus they needed to fashion a leveller.
Bogle then had a golden opportunity to give the Blades the lead on 78 minutes after being found by a lovely backheel from Archer but dragged his shot wide from close range.
The draw was Sheffield United’s first away point of the season and took them off the foot of the table. It leaves Brighton in eighth and six points from Aston Villa in the Europa League spot.