With multiple players out injured – including the captain Lewis Dunk and striker Evan Ferguson – Albion looked like they would be just fine without them after taking an early lead through Simon Adingra.
It was a superb goal, with the in-form wide man weaving through defenders and playing a one-two with Facundo Buonanotte, before finding the net via the post.
The Seagulls were in full control and Ansu Fati went the closest to doubling the hosts’ lead, with a close-range effort, which was well-saved.
Brighton, with more than 70 per cent possession for the whole half, needed a second goal to make things comfortable but it never came – despite the introduction of Kaoru Mitoma and Joao Pedro at half-time.
Sheffield United grew in confidence and the turning point came on the 69th minute, when Mahmoud Dahoud saw red after standing on Ben Osborn’s leg.
The visitors took full advantage and found an equaliser just minutes later. The unfortunate Adam Webster put the ball into his own net from Jayden Bogle’s low cross. Despite the score being 1-1, Paul Heckingbottom’s side had mustered zero shots on target at this point (they finished with one).
Roberto De Zerbi, booked for his reaction to the goal, watched on as his Brighton side failed to find a winner in a game that he was desperate to win.
The result – the sixth league game in a row without a win – leaves Albion eighth in the table as they dropped back to earth following the fairy tale win at Ajax in Amsterdam.
Here’s how we rated the players:
Jason Steele – 7: Could have put up a deckchair for much of the first-half but the longer the game stayed at 1-0, the more nervous he would have been feeling. He didn’t have any saves to make before Adam Webster put the ball in his own net. Nothing the goalkeeper could have done.
Adam Webster – 6: Confident passing out from the back with Brighton dominating early on. Was picked for his much needed experience with the captain Lewis Dunk out of action. Put the ball into his own net as Sheffield made the most of their extra man.
Jan Paul van Hecke – 8: Superb against Everton and Ajax and was full of confidence again for much of the afternoon. Didn't give Sheffield a sniff until the red card changed the game. Defended resolutely and was a towering presence in the air. One poor pass of note out from the back was intercepted but Igor bailed the Dutchman out. Nearly scored with a header from Gross’ corner. Had a lot more work to do after the red card, which he did well. Named sponsors’ man of the match.
Igor Julio – 7: Big shoes to fill with Dunk injured. The Brazilian was brilliant in the first-half. Good defensive positioning to snuff out the danger after van Hecke’s loose pass in midfield. Could have been a bit quicker to stop the cross for the goal.
Billy Gilmour – 6: Some good passing. A good pass to Adingra led to the opening goal. A bit sloppy at times. Sweet connection on long range effort, which was tipped over the bar. Replaced by Carlos Baleba after the red card.
Mahmoud Dahoud – 5: Kept things ticking things over nicely when Brighton were in control of the game. Played Fati in on goal for early chance. Powerful long range effort saved. Some nice link up play with fellow countryman Gross. Straight red for a dangerous tackle on Ben Osborn. It was a needless thing to do and was a major turning point in the game. A moment of madness.
Facundo Buonanotte – 7: Lovely back-heeled assist for Adingra. Playing with a point to prove early on. Good pressing from the front to win the ball back. Decent effort into the side netting from a tight angle, the ball didn't fall kindly for him. Booked for cynical foul and Sheffield looked to counter. Was unlucky to be subbed at half-time.
Pascal Gross – 6: A vital player at the best of times, let alone when Brighton face an injury crisis. Not at his best today but put in some dangerous corners, which could have been scored on another day.
Adam Lallana – 6: A rare start and he had some nice moments in the 45-minutes he played. Created great chance for Fati with through-ball.
Simon Adingra – 7: Absolutely superb goal as Brighton got off to the perfect start. It was a Lionel Messi-like run and one-two with Buonanotte. Lovely backheel from the Argentine before Adingra did the rest. Looked a real threat in the first half but his impact faded. Very quiet in the second half and he lost the ball before the equaliser.
Ansu Fati – 7: A lot of pressure on him as the main man up top, with Evan Ferguson and Danny Welbeck out. Two efforts well saved in the first half but he was anonymous after the break. Replaced by Joel Veltman after Dahoud saw red.
Joao Pedro – 6: Brought on at half-time. Straight into the action, with a bursting run forward. Put a first-time curling shot a whisker over the bar. Down in a heap after battle for the ball with multiple Sheffield players. No foul given and the officials were met with loud boos. Pass too heavy in promising attacking position. Mitoma could have had a golden chance if the pass was better.
Karou Mitoma – 6: Brought on at the interval but wasn’t able to have the same impact he had off the bench against Bournemouth – the last time Brighton won in the Premier League. One shot saved well at near post. Gave Bogle too much space for the goal. Not quite happening for him at the moment.
Carlos Baleba – 6: Booked for late foul. Fouled right on the edge of the box as he looked to break free. Millimetres away from being a penalty. Limited impact otherwise.
Joel Veltman – 6: Brought on to solidify the defence after Dahoud’s red card but Brighton conceded almost straight away. Diving header back to his keeper to ease some pressure.