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.
Sheffield United grew in confidence in the second half 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 his ball into his own net from Jayden Bogle’s low cross.
Following the match, the Brighton boss made his feelings clear about what he thinks of referees in England. The Italian – booked after Sheffield United’s equaliser – was visibly furious to see multiple decisions go against his side, including a penalty call which was controversially not given for handball against Bogle.
Despite admitting Dahoud was correctly sent off, De Zerbi said: "I’m honest and clear. I don’t like 80 per cent of referees in England but it is not a new thing. I don’t like the behaviour on the pitch but it’s not my job to ask them to change, I accept everything.
"Now I work in England I only speak about England referees. It’s not correct to speak on the other referees in the world.
"England is the only country where there is VAR you are not sure that the decision is right. In other countries you have to be sure 100 per cent that the decision the referee gives in right but in England it is not and I don’t understand.
"If I see the new rules that it is a clear red card but in the play and the dynamic of the situation it is not a red card but we have to accept that. Dahoud knows the mistake but it can happen for other players in other countries.
"I’m not angry with him, he has the right experience to not make these mistakes but it can happen in football.”
De Zerbi was also adamant that his side dropped two points against the Blades and believes that his side was the better before Dahoud’s dismissal.
“We lost four points, two against Fulham and two against Sheffield (United). We can improve when we have a chance to kill the game. When there are five, ten 15, 20 minutes we have to defend well and we have to suffer with more energy because after the red card I didn't like the team. We lost order and we defended in a bad way and we could do better.
"Yes Sheffield United played well but until the red card I think we played very well and deserved to win with more goals and after the red card it is another game.
"We have to analyse the game. Until the red card there was only one team on the pitch. Brighton could win the game two or three nil but after the red card the game changed, 11 against 11, there was only one team on the pitch and we have to analyse that game.”