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Joao Palhinha’s stunning strike snatches Fulham a point at Brighton

Joao Palhinha scored a stunning equaliser as Fulham held Brighton to a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium.

The Seagulls were the better team in the early stages and were rewarded through Evan Ferguson’s neat finish before Palhinha’s superb strike secured a point for the Londoners.

The result extended Brighton’s winless run to three as they rued missed chances in front of goal.

Roberto De Zerbi’s side showed little signs of fatigue following Thursday’s 2-0 Europa League win over Ajax and nearly took an early lead.

Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno kept out Carlos Baleba’s shot from range in the seventh minute and saved Simon Adingra’s effort inside the six-yard box moments later to keep it 0-0.

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Baleba was pulling the strings for Brighton as his vision and inch-perfect passes picked out the pacey Adingra, who enjoyed runs into space.

The hosts got the goal they deserved after 26 minutes.

Igor Julio drove the Seagulls up the pitch and when Ferguson retrieved the ball outside the box he showed excellent composure to slide the ball past Leno with his left foot into the bottom corner.

The goal highlighted a gulf in quality between the two sides and the lethargic Cottagers were fortunate not to concede again immediately after the kick-off when their defence was caught napping by Adingra.

A rain-soaked Marco Silva cut a frustrated figure and his pleas to his Fulham players were left unanswered as Willian’s wasteful free-kick put an end to the first spell of meaningful possession the visitors had enjoyed in the Brighton half since the opening minutes.

Left-back Antonee Robinson was struggling to cope with Adingra and the American then gifted Ferguson a back pass, but the Seagulls’ goalscorer failed to double his tally when he was denied by Leno after 40 minutes.

Brighton started the second half quickly and Lewis Dunk was unfortunate not to score in the 49th minute. The skipper lined up a set-piece and his side-footed effort dipped onto Leno’s crossbar.

Fulham made Brighton pay for their missed chances as they made it 1-1 in the 65th minute through Palhinha.

The visitors threw men forward in numbers and the Portugal international got the ball out of his feet on the edge of the box and blasted an effort past Jason Steele.

The goal swung the momentum in the Londoners’ favour and substitute Rodrigo Muniz nearly punished Brighton from the restart through an audacious back heel that was kept out by Steele.

Both teams had opportunities to win it with Robinson clearing an effort off the line before Harry Wilson came close to grabbing a winner at the other end.