Alexis Mac Allister plays big role as Brighton beat West Ham


In Argentina, a midfielder like Alexis Mac Allister is often called “the octopus”.

That’s because they always seem to have a foot in the way when you’re trying to get the ball past them.

His brother Francis has had it for years.

Alexis’ stifling and then constructive efforts at depth are something new.

This is how Francis was able to joke about “El pulpo Mac Allister” while watching the events of Stratford on television in Argentina.

“That’s the nickname they give to some midfielders like me here,” he said.

Without getting into the details of how many legs, arms, or tentacles an octopus (or “pulpo”) actually has, this lineage from Argentina is a nice one.

Mac Allister has certainly gotten a limb in the right place on many occasions here and used the ball well.

Plenty more of the same and the Seagulls could soon have another midfielder to draw transfer interest.

Yves Bissouma is gone, Moises Caicedo is attracting headlines, speculation and, we’re told, keen interest.

But how long before their Argentina No.10, who plays as a six, is a target for others?

Mac Allister tucked away the first penalty, was involved in the superb second goal that offered precious breathing space and was the starting point for the move that should have added the icing on the cake.

So the excellent track record of the Seagulls in the former Olympic Stadium was a team effort.

After a very early scare, they gave West Ham riddles to solve while in possession that were beyond their wit and imagination.

And they had the lethal touch to ensure all their good work was rewarded.

Seven points from three games (actually it should have been nine) and a second clean sheet got this season off to a flying start.

Two high-flying saves from Robert Sanchez mean the only goal Albion have conceded so far still belongs to the hapless Mac Allister at Old Trafford.

But this time he got the ball rolling.

Albion’s start to the season was such that they fielded the same starting XI for the third consecutive game, although the presence of Neal Maupay and Pervis Estupinan on the bench was notable.

They had an early little scare when a shocking crossfield pass from Adam Webster got Joel Veltman in trouble.

Said Benrahma cuts in from the left and shoots wide of the far post – at least two yards wide but it looked good.

This blunder was totally uncharacteristic of Webster as he made several key interventions.

Albion was difficult to play through and their defense led to attack which brought the opening goal.

With passing opportunities disabled, Kurt Zouma was tempted to carry the ball forward.

Home fans loved that at first – but the amusement turned to concern when Mac Allister put out a tentacle, recaptured the ball and let go of Trossard.

For his part, he fed Danny Welbeck, who, as a VAR check confirmed, was mowed down directly in the penalty area by new Hammers defender Thilo Kehrer.

Mac Allister took two penalties in the same game at Wolves last season, going to the keeper’s right side each time.

Lukasz Fabianski dived like that this time while the Albion man deflected the ball deep into the opposite corner.

It felt like more had to come from West Ham as the visitors hit the control interval.

The ever-reliable Veltman got in the way of an Aaron Creswell shot from a corner after the break.

For a while, Albion didn’t have as much possession as they used to.

It resulted in Pablo Fornals firing a shot that Sanchez parried quite comfortably.

That was Fornals’ final act as he was replaced by recently arrived striker Gianluca Scamacca just after the hour mark.

Albion responded by introducing another defender, Estupinan, who continued for Adam Lallana.

But before the latest signing from Ecuador had a chance to impress, Albion were twice ahead thanks to a cleverly crafted second goal.

It was a composed, commanding finish from Trossard, who was sent off defense after Pascal Gross, rattling, deftly assisted a pass passed his way by Mac Allister.

West Ham made a treble change but Albion should have been out of sight as they had a great move – and a bad miss.

It started with a sensational win by Mac Allister, who then stepped forward, catching defenders and releasing Estupinan.

The debutant’s cross was early and accurate but March headed wide in front of goal.

West Ham briefly threatened late on – and that only underscored Sanchez’s ridiculous agility.

He climbed very high to tip a Tomas Soucek header.

When the resulting corner came, Jarrod Bowen and Soucek both rose, neither of them headed in – and Sanchez did it again.

Bowen could hardly believe it.

But the result was entirely believable and justified another hugely impressive performance from Albion.

The seagulls and their squid fly.

Westham: Fabianski; Coufal (Johnson 75), Zouma, Kehrer, Cresswell; Soucek, Reis, Fornals (Scamacca 62); Bowen, Antonio (Cornet 75), Benrahma (Lanzini 75). Unused Subs: Downes, Areola, Ogbonna, Coventry, Ashby.

Posted: Kehrer, Cresswell.

Albion: Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster; March (Mwepu 85), Mac Allister, Caicedo, Trossard (Mitoma 90+3); Lallana (Estupinan 63), gross; Welbeck. Unused Subs: Lamptey, Colwill, Maupay, Alzate, Undav, Steele.

Goals: Mac Allister Pen 22, Trossard 66.

Referee: Anthony Taylor. Alexis Mac Allister plays big role as Brighton beat West Ham

Fry Electronics Team

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