Brighton’s Neal Maupay has his eye on the Premier League season

If that first goal of preparation is really that important to a striker, Neal Maupay gladly accepts a gift.

The Albion striker, who ended the first friendly of the pre-season in red haze a week earlier, started the second in red-hot style when he scored twice in the opening 12 minutes of a 4-1 win over Estoril.

His first, after just a minute, was such a gift that you had to double-check that the whistle hadn’t gone out for some reason.

Albion would not have even started this move if the injured Leandro Trossard had not managed to roll off the pitch for treatment.

The second was a brave header, a classic goalscoring finish that saw the striker take a painful blow to the hand.

He might even have scored a hat-trick in the first quarter of that tie behind closed doors on the outskirts of Lisbon.

Maupay started the season well, especially on the road.

Albion have won their first away game in each of Graham Potter’s three seasons as manager and Maupay has netted in each of those wins.

Here it was nice to see not only how much he enjoyed his football but also the goals.

He dropped lower to get the ball and used the fact that Danny Welbeck was in front of him as a classic center forward to his advantage.

More goals from Kaoru Mitoma and Deniz Undav, both scoring for the first time since arriving from Union St-Gilloise, completed the final result.

For all this, of course, the result is worth it.

Maupay kept an eye on it.

He said: “The pre-season is good but I don’t really pay attention to the wins or anything else.

“You can win every game in preseason and lose in the league.

“It’s certainly good to be in good shape, to be ready and to have a clear vision of what we’re doing and what we want to achieve this season.

“But it’s always good to have fun and score a few goals.”

At the Estadio Pina Manique, very close to Benfica, this fun was not long in coming.

Trossard suffered a painful blow to the knee in his first tackle and it looked like Lewis Dunk would put the ball out of play.

But then the skipper noticed that Trossard was off and should be treated and kept playing.

An Albion attack on the right was deftly cut off by a defender, then appeared to grind down his pass and presented the ball to Maupay, who took a touch and slotted it into the bottom corner.

His second goal was more conventional.

Dunk was up from a corner when he nodded Marc Cucurella’s deep, hanging cross over the goal area.

It was clear Maupay was going to be run over by a defender, but he kept his eye on the ball and bent down to go home.

The Frenchman later had a shot saved on the goal line after a nice connection with Trossard.

And he was key in a move that ended with keeper Dani Pereira’s second good save against Welbeck.

The first was after a volley from Solly March, which shattered the bar down the left after nice footwork and a battered cross from Trossard.

This stage is all about fighting your way back to full strength and Robert Sanchez had a nightmare moment as his aerial shot gave Estoril the goal.

The keeper came out of his box to clear a long ball over the top, missing completely as he swung his right foot and watched Rodrigo Martins take the open goal.

Dunk immediately high-fived the keeper, who later flew to the right and blocked a well-put-in shot that had been deflected by Moises Caicedo.

The changes in the second half seemed to underscore that Albion has decent depth.

Certainly more than their hosts, who occupied a very respectable mid-table position in the Portuguese premier class last season.

It was a chance for newcomers to impress, and they took it.

Undav’s skillful volley released Julio Enciso down the right flank.

The Paraguayan intervened, showing his step-over and drilling a low cross from the baseline that found Mitoma in goal.

Undav knew exactly what he was going to do when Steven Alzate passed the ball to him from 20 yards out and a safe right-footed shot found the bottom corner.

Jeremy Sarmiento, looking keen to run towards defenders, had saved a shot after fending off a defender who was trying to pull the jersey off his back.

And Evan Ferguson went down very late with a shot wide when Shane Duffy headed the ball to him.

Potter said: “To be honest the attitude of everyone on a difficult playing surface was fantastic.

“You handled it really well.

“Your attitude was really good. We are very pleased.

“It’s been a really positive week.”

https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/20285441.brightons-neal-maupay-eyes-premier-league-season/?ref=rss Brighton’s Neal Maupay has his eye on the Premier League season

Fry Electronics Team

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