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Brighton 1, Villa 1: Claret and Blues fight back to earn a point on the South Coast

With help from a key pair of substitutes, Jack Grealish buried Villa’s equalizer Saturday to remain just one point from escaping the bottom three.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Aston Villa - Premier League
BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: Jack Grealish of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa at American Express Community Stadium on January 18, 2020 in Brighton, United Kingdom.
Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

A strong second-half performance and a beautiful Jack Grealish goal in the 75th minute earned Aston Villa a point in a 1-1 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

While it was a tense encounter throughout, with each side only generating a few recognized chances, the host Seagulls were the better side in the first 45, a superiority that was reflected on the half-time score sheet. The key moment came late in the first half, after Grealish made a splendid individual run to create a chance for himself. That shot was wide of the net, though, and Brighton made Villa pay nearly instantly, as Leandro Trossard buried a nice finish on the ensuing counterattack to put the hosts 1-0 up.

Luckily, it was a changed Villa side in the second half, as Dean Smith’s men responded to rescue an important point. The Claret and Blues carried play and created a series of half-chances through the first half-hour, but it wasn’t until Smith made a double-change to bring on Douglas Luiz and Indiana Vassilev — the latter making his Premier League debut — that Villa got back level. The duo were instrumental in setting up Villa’s goal; as Vassilev was making a run that drew two Brighton defenders his way, including centre back Adam Webster, Douglas Luiz played a long-distance cross that was perfectly hit for a barely marked Grealish. The English midfielder allowed the ball to settle a bit, then hit on the half-volley to score the equalizer.

Brighton probably had the best chances of the last quarter-hour — Pepe Reina had to make a fine save on Neal Maupay — but Villa saw out the point and kept themselves just a point back of 17th-placed Watford, who they play Tuesday.