Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Atletico Madrid 3
Albion put up a more than creditable performance against the former Champions League runners up and recent La Liga winners.
But it was Madrid who controlled the early part of the match, with Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann both heavily involved in the visitors’ approach play.
Jan Oblak in goal for Atletico didn’t touch the ball until grabbing a Tomer Hemed cross on 17 minutes.
Albion started to get more possession, Izzy Brown looking useful as he worked hard in midfield.
Shane Duffy almost opened the scoring as his header flashed just over.
Maty Ryan was being kept busy and made a particularly good stop from Torres.
Yannick Carrasco looked to have been upended by Duffy but the referee waved away penalty appeals and gave Albion a free kick.
Griezmann’s reaction and, on the bench, Diego Simeone’s apparent indifference to the decision, were an indication of just how seriously Atletico were taking the contest.
It looked like Carrasco was booked for simulation.
Madrid took the lead just before half time. Nico Gaitan’s shot from almost 20 yards was fumbled or squirmed under Ryan to give Atletico the lead almost on the whistle.
Albion looked far more lively as the second half began, especially Solly March, who appears to have formed a good understanding with Pascal Gross.
March was getting into good crossing positions and had a great effort fly narrowly over.
Albion got back into it from a free kick 20 yards out. Gross and March stood over the ball but it was the German who fired in a low drive which sneaked in via Gietan and the post.
Nevertheless, 10 years after playing at a half-empty Withdean in a pre- season friendly against Ipswich a former Bundesliga player was scoring for Albion against at least the third best team in La Liga in front of nearly 30,000 fans at the Amex.
Gross then sent March away again, with a superb crossfield ball. This time, however, the Madrid defence stood firm.
As Albion grew in confidence so their visitors stepped up a gear. Carrasco finding some pace up against Bruno and the Belgian’s cross was brilliantly glanced in by Torres.
It wasn’t long before Albion were back on level terms. Another great cross from March was guided in with a well-placed header from Steve Sidwell. Despite it being a pre-season friendly, Sidwell will have enjoyed his first ever goal at the Amex.
Anthony Knockaert, seemingly recovered from his foot injury, went on some threatening runs at the Madrid defence. It was encouraging to see the Frenchman on the pitch.
Gross had a chance to put Albion in front before Griezmann, clean through, forced a good point-blank save from Ryan only for the loose ball to come back in and be tucked away by Hernandez to put Madrid back in front.
Albion put in a good shift and looked the part for large periods of the match.
Soaking up pressure and a counterattacking philosophy appears to be Albion’s remit at the moment, with Lewis Dunk and Duffy looking strong at the back and March looking like a seasoned Premier League winger, not forgetting Knockaert’s return and the end of Murray’s suspension.
The Seagulls could yet surprise a few this coming season, starting with Manchester City this coming Saturday, as the club takes its Premier League bow.
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