Roberto De Zerbi claimed Brighton’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth was one of their worst performances since he took charge.
The Seagulls trailed to Dominic Solanke’s opportunist strike but went in level at half-time thanks to a Milos Kerkez own goal.
Boss De Zerbi, who had made nine changes to his starting line-up from Thursday’s Europe League defeat by AEK Athens, sent on Ansu Fati and Kaoru Mitoma at half-time.
And the pair had an instant impact, combining for an exquisite goal just 15 seconds into the second half, with Mitoma applying the finishing touch.
Japan winger Mitoma then wrapped up the victory with a late header as Brighton leapt up to third in the Premier League.
“Today we played one of the worst games in my time. In two, three or four situations we were lucky,” said De Zerbi.
“Bournemouth played a great first half. In the second we played better but not our best level. But we knew before the game it was one of the most difficult games of the season.
“Today was the first time we played after playing in the Europa League. I changed a lot of players, maybe too many.
“We need to adapt as we are not used to playing three games a week. This season we will play three games every week. I am really pleased because we won with character and patience and not the style and quality of play. Character is maybe the most important part of football.”
Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola felt his side should have had a penalty before the equaliser when Marcus Tavernier was caught by the flailing arm of Simon Adingra.
“He slaps Tavernier in the face. People watching on TV can see what happened and they wonder why it’s not a penalty – it’s pretty obvious,” he said.
“We were winning 1-0 at the time and those decisions are very important. When you are winning you have to make more damage.”
Bournemouth remain winless under Iraola six games into the season.
Iraola added: “I think it was a tough one, this game. Especially the way we played the first half, to end the half 1-1 was difficult. We were in control of the game.
“Then after the first play of the second half we were losing the game and we had been playing well.
“We had chances after that. But it is much more difficult to play Brighton when they are winning and don’t need to attack.”
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