CRYSTAL PALACE must be sick of the sight of Neal Maupay.
The Frenchman earned Brighton an undeserved 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park in September with virtually the last kick of the game.
And he put in a late show here too to deny Patrick Vieira’s side as his cut-back was turned home by the unfortunate Joachim Andersen with three minutes to go.
Palace thought they had pulled off a smash-and-grab at Albion for the second season running when Conor Gallagher blasted home on 69 minutes.
That was after Pascal Gross had missed a penalty and Maupay had had a goal ruled out.
Yet the last three clashes between these two sides have had late drama and this was no different as Graham Potter’s men fought back.
The uninitiated may be baffled by the level of animosity between the two clubs, given the near 50 miles of A23 between them.
The rivalry was sparked in the 1976-77 season when Alan Mullery’s Brighton and Terry Venables’ Palace went head to head for promotion in the then Third Division.
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There have been plenty of feisty moments since and in the last three encounters, game-changing goals in the 90th minute.
Albion midfielder Alexis Mac Allister, who began the trend with an injury-time leveller at Selhurst Park in October 2020, warned fans “not to leave early” ahead of his clash.
The away fans made their presence felt as the game kicked off by letting off a smoke bomb, just as they had at Millwall in the FA Cup on Saturday.
The game was not living up to the lively atmosphere – until mayhem ensued in the 36th minute.
Out of nowhere, VAR alerted ref Robert Jones to check his monitor for a foul on Joel Veltman by Will Hughes in the area and he rightly gave it.
Palace fans cheekily lobbed a red flare into the goal as Gross was waiting to take his spot-kick and the trick seemed to work as the German’s weak effort was saved.
Yet from the resulting corner, remarkably, Brighton had the ball in the net as Jack Butland spilled Dan Burn’s header, allowing Maupay to pounce and turn home.
Yet once again VAR told Jones to check his pitchside screen, where the rookie Premier League ref found Maupay to have fouled the goalkeeper.
It seemed questionable if Butland was actually in control of the ball as Maupay nudged it out of his hands.
The spotkick save served as redemption for Butland after the England stopper’s howler at The Den last weekend.
Albion kept up the pressure in the second half as the excellent Jakub Moder came a whisker away from his first Premier League goal when striking the crossbar.
The Pole was denied again minutes later after being sent through by Mac Allister, but this time via a superb Butland stop.
He would rue those misses as with 21 minutes to go, Gallagher broke the deadlock in clinical fashion.
Jeff Schlupp did well to keep the ball alive and cut it back to the Chelsea man, who took a quick touch and buried it into the far corner.
Gallagher jumped onto the advertising hoardings to celebrate wildly in front of the Palace fans, one of whom ran on the pitch as another flare was flung.
Yet there was to be a sting in the tail, as there so often is in these games, as Andersen somehow nutmegged Butland from Maupay’s cutback to secure a thrilling draw.
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