Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi says he and Fulham match-winner Manor Solomon will forever be united by their shared experience of fleeing war-torn Ukraine.
Solomon inflicted professional pain on his former Shakhtar Donetsk boss on Saturday with a dramatic late strike as the Cottagers snatched a 1-0 success over the Seagulls at the Amex Stadium.
The Israel winger was embraced by De Zerbi before entering the pitch as an 82nd-minute substitute on the first occasion the pair have met since escaping the Russian invasion.
“I’m sad for the result but I’m happy for him,” said De Zerbi. “We stayed seven months together and we stayed in a bad moment for us.
“We will remember that moment until the end of our lives.
“For me, in the game he was an opponent but after the game he is my friend, he is my player, and I can’t forget the past.”
Solomon sucker-punched Brighton two minutes from time, having just replaced Andreas Pereira.
A frustrating afternoon for De Zerbi, whose side dominated and registered 21 attempts, concluded with the shame of being shown a red card after berating referee Darren England following the full-time whistle.
At the end of a week in which he had a meeting with referees’ chief Howard Webb, the Italian was angered by the demeanour and attitude of England and criticised the overall standard of officiating in the Premier League.
He also hit out at the level of time wasting in the top flight as he criticised Fulham’s tactics.
“I thought before I worked in the Premier League, wasting time was only in Italy and in Latin countries but it’s not like this,” he said.
“Every game there is incredible time wasting.
“For this I prefer to lose this game because this game will be important to win a lot of other games in the future.”
Fulham rarely threatened before the late twist as they struggled in the absence of injured top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Yet Solomon’s second goal in as many games was sufficient to lift the west London club above their hosts and into sixth position to boost their hopes of European qualification.
Cottagers boss Marco Silva must wait to discover whether Mitrovic will overcome his hamstring issue in time for Friday’s visit of Wolves.
“We assessed him during the week and with some doubts if it is the moment for us to take the risk or not,” said Silva.
“At the end the medical staff told me that he wasn’t available for the match.
“It looks a minor injury, if I can say that. I don’t know if he will be ready for the next game or just for the Leeds match (in the FA Cup on February 28).
“We have to see, the next few days will be important for us to assess him and see if he is available or not.”