When Brighton's Aaron Connolly destroyed Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham

Few players have made a greater impact on their first start in the Premier League than Brighton and Hove Albion striker Aaron Connolly.

Sunday, 3rd May 2020, 8:29 am
Aaron Connolly's brace against Spurs on his first Premier League start was the highlight of his fledgling career so far

Connolly, then 19, was excellent on the day and proved too much for a Spurs defence crammed with established internationals - many of whom a few months prior were contesting a Champions League final with Liverpool.

His first goal was an instinctive and clever close range finish, while his second was a wonderful strike to secure a 3-0 victory and create scenes of wild celebration at the Amex.

It was certainly a highlight of the season and the high point of Connolly's career so far.

Connolly was so impressive he was immediately called-up to Mick McCarthy's Republic of Ireland squad, where he featured against Switzerland and Georgia in their European qualifiers.

Match summary:

Super stuff from Brighton from start to finish. Controlled the match against a very tired looking Spurs team, still dizzy from their CL thrashing against Bayern Munich.

Graham Potter gave starts to youngsters Steven Alzate and Aaron Connolly and both were exceptional. Connolly took both of his goals very well and he is the first Irish teenager to score a brace in the PL since Robbie Keane for Coventry vs Derby in August 1999.

Aaron Connolly steers home his first against Brighton

He looks a real poacher, but importantly, works hard for the team. Neal Maupay also netted his third goal of the season, as he opened the scoring after just four minutes.

Brighton were described as toothless after last week's loss at Chelsea but they were far from toothless today.

The fans loved this and an important result for the team. Not only in terms points but for the belief that Potter's style works for them.

Player ratings

Connolly cuts inside onto his right foot and blasts home his second and Albion's third

Brighton: Ryan (7), Montoya (7), Webster (7), Burn (7), Dunk (7), Alzate (7), Gross (8), Mooy (8), Stephens (7), Connolly (9), Maupay (8). Subs: Bissouma (n/a), Bong (n/a), Murray (n/a).

Tottenham:Lloris (4), Sissoko, (5) Alderweireld (5), Vertonghen (5), Davies (6), Dier (5), Ndombele (4), Son (5), Eriksen (5), Lamela (6), Kane (6). Subs: Gazzaniga (5), Winks (5), Moura (6),

Man of the match: Aaron Connolly

What he said

The young Irishman celebrates his second with the fans

Connolly: "It was a great performance from the start. We have performed well over the weeks but not got the results. It was a brilliant performance and it was great to see it all come together.

"I am not sure it has all sunk in. It’s a dream come through. I love getting goals, I love being able to make my debut. It’s not really sunk in.

On Graham Potter: "He is playing me and trusting me. Straight away, when I came back I knew he was a manager I wanted to play under. His belief in me is great and I am so glad I can repay it."

The managers

Graham Potter: "I'm delighted for the players. Aaron Connolly has been knocking on the door and gives us an extra dimension. He's a young lad with a big future who took his goal really well."

Mauricio Pochettino: "It is a tough moment but we keep going. I feel sorry for the fans. I hope all the pressure comes on me and the players can be free. Now is the moment to be strong."

The crowd respond to Connolly's excellent display

Full match report

Premier League. 12:30pm, Saturday 5 October 2019. Amex Stadium. Attendance: 30,610.

Aaron Connolly scored twice on his first Premier League start as Brighton increased pressure on Mauricio Pochettino, thrashing Tottenham 3-0 at the Amex Stadium.

Tottenham came into the game low on confidence already following their 7-2 midweek mauling at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but their problems deepened in only the third minute when goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who was subsequently stretchered from the field after dislocating his elbow, gifted Neil Maupay Brighton's opener.

Pochettino's side were second best throughout the first half and Brighton deservedly extended their lead in the 32nd minute thanks to Connolly's close-range finish.

Spurs' dreadful afternoon was complete when the impressive Connolly cut inside Toby Alderweireld before finding the far corner to extend Pochettino side's winless run on the road to 10 Premier League matches, stretching back to January.

It lifted Graham Potter's side up to 13th and it was his team's second win of the season and first win at home since March.

Spurs conceded after just three minutes following another error from Lloris. The French goalkeeper, under no pressure, dropped a hopeful Pascal Gross right on his own goalline to leave Maupay with the simplest of headers to give the hosts the lead.

Lloris was then stretchered off after landing awkwardly on his left arm and, after a lengthy spell of treatment, he was replaced Paulo Gazzaniga.

Spurs' problems deepened in the 32nd minute when Connolly struck from close range after Gazzaniga had smartly kept out the youngster's initial flick.

It left Pochettino with plenty to do at half-time and he reacted by bringing on Harry Winks in place of Tanguy Ndombele. He also switched to three in defence with Eric Dier moving back to join Jan Vertonghen and Alderweireld, and it brought about some improvement from Spurs.

But any signs of a reaction were short-lived as Brighton pushed to kill the game off.

Gross clipped the top of the crossbar from a free-kick from a tight angle before Connolly extended his side's advantage further.

Latching onto Lewis Dunk's long ball, the forward cut inside Alderweireld before unleashing a powerful right-footed shot to beat the dive of Gazzaniga and find the bottom corner.

Connolly rightfully received a standing ovation when he was substituted 10 minutes from time with Potter bringing on Yves Bissouma to strengthen his midfield, but there was still time for Spurs to create a few openings.

Substitute Lucas Moura forced Mat Ryan into action and the Australian made two smart saves to get Brighton over the line and complete Spurs' miserable afternoon.

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Man of the match and quite right too