Three days after Alexis Mac Allister won the World Cup with Argentina, his Brighton teammates were on the wrong end of a penalty shootout defeat. The stakes may not have been quite so high, but nonetheless Brighton came a cropper at League One Charlton in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
While Mac Allister partied in Buenos Aires, having been given a fortnight off after his heroics in Qatar, the rest of the Brighton team faced a far less appealing trip to chilly south-east London as their domestic season resumed.
And after Charlton keeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer saved Moises Caicedo’s penalty, Sam Lavelle hit the winning spot-kick as Charlton reached the quarter-finals, 4-3 on penalties, after a goalless draw.
These are tough times for Charlton, the former Premier League side now languishing 18th in League One after appointing their fifth manager in less than two years, Dean Holden, 24 hours earlier.
They were almost behind in the opening five minutes when Lewis Dunk headed a Solly March corner narrowly wide. Adam Lallana occupied the position Mac Allister plays for Argentina in this Brighton team, but that will surely change once the 23-year-old returns from his break.
However, former England international Lallana almost opened the scoring in spectacular fashion when he collected Tariq Lamptey’s square ball, turned and razed the crossbar from 20 yards. But Charlton had their chances in the first half too, Jack Payne cutting inside and fizzing a low shot straight at Jason Steele in the Brighton goal.
Steele then came out bravely to deny Miles Leaburn, the teenage son of former Charlton forward Carl Leaburn, who was booked for his challenge on the keeper, before dunk slid in to block Steven Sessegnon’s goalbound shot.
Roberto De Zerbi sent on another of his World Cup contingent, Japan winger Kaoru Mitoma, at the start of the second half in a bid to find some urgency.
It had an effect as Maynard-Brewer quickly had to tip Levi Colwill’s header over before March darted past a couple of challenges into the area only to prod his finish wide. However, it remained a stalemate and Steele looked set to be the hero in the shootout, saving from George Dobson and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi.
But when March blazed over and Caicedo’s effort was saved, Lavelle stepped up to send the underdogs through.
Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest reached the League Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1994 with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Blackburn. Wales international Brennan Johnson scored twice on his return to action after the World Cup, while Jesse Lingard and Taiwo Awoniyi were also on target.