Brighton boss Graham Potter has backed Neal Maupay to bounce back from the “very traumatic” experience of gifting a dramatic victory to Manchester United.
Seagulls striker Maupay went from hero to villain by conceding a last-gasp penalty in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat, having earlier opened the scoring with an impudent effort from the spot.
United playmaker Bruno Fernandes buried the winning goal from 12 yards with the last kick of a breathless contest after the Frenchman’s inexplicable handball was spotted by VAR.
Maupay had marked his first-half goal with a mock crying celebration but left the Amex Stadium pitch close to genuine tears due to his costly mistake.
Potter refused to criticise the £20million forward and put the stoppage-time error down to a brain malfunction, while urging his team to learn from the bitter blow.
“It’s a football action that when you look back you think, ‘I wish I’d done this or I wish I’d done that’,” said Potter.
“There’s no blame, there’s no bad feeling. We have to take everything together and he’ll be better for this experience.
“Hopefully we’ll all be better for this experience because it’s been a very traumatic one in terms of how emotionally draining it’s been.
“I think it’s a classic example of the brain not functioning maybe as well as it can and you can understand why that would (happen) because it’s the last minute – literally – of a 100-minute game.
“We’re obviously heavily punished – that’s how it feels. We have to dust ourselves down quickly and try to focus on the things we did really well because there was a lot there.”
Fernandes’ winner – in the 10th minute of added time – came after referee Chris Kavanagh blew the full-time whistle, only to point to the spot and resume play following a trip to the pitchside monitor.
Brighton thought they had snatched a deserved point through Solly March’s late header just minutes earlier.
During a helter-skelter encounter in which Albion struck the woodwork five times and United had two goals disallowed, a Lewis Dunk own goal and superb solo effort from Marcus Rashford turned the game in the visitors’ favour following Maupay’s cheeky opener.
In-form Maupay, whose brace at Newcastle last weekend included a penalty, coolly dinked home from 12 yards in the 40th minute.
Potter was a little uneasy with his top scorer’s audacious technique but insists he never considered stripping the player of spot-kick duties following misses against Leicester in June and Chelsea in pre-season.
“I’ve never seen him take that one before and it’s a good job because I would definitely be saying, ‘Don’t do that’,” said Potter.
“I tend to not look at penalties and then Billy (Reid, assistant head coach) told me he had done that and I was like, ‘Thank God I didn’t see it’.
“You can miss but his record is very, very good. We believe in him and it’s just part of life that you have to deal with the disappointment of missing a penalty and get on take the next one.
“He’s got that courage, that personality.”
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