Roberto De Zerbi has thanked the players who are limping towards the finish line.

Quite literally, in some cases.

It certainly felt like fans were showing some appreciation after a late salvage mission at home to Chelsea came up just short.

There was a period during Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat when it felt like a powerful away side would run away with it against a depleted, jaded home outfit.

They scored their second goal and had other moments when they powered forward at pace.

One felt their fans wanted an emphatic statement of domination and superiority.

And yet they ended the game demanding the final whistle, which has to give some sort of encouragement and satisfaction to the Seagulls.

They might have gained some reward against a Chelsea side who, led by Cole Palmer, looked excellent at times but who, unlike Arsenal recently, never actually slammed the door shut.

Adam Webster was among those who felt Albion might have got something from the game.

Indeed they might. There were costly errors in the promising period at 1-0 early in the second half.

By the officials not to award a penalty and also by Pascal Gross with his awkward finish which sent Tariq Lamptey’s cross past the near post with an equaliser beckoning.

De Zerbi pointed out Lamptey lost his footing at a key moment on the second goal, as indeed he did.

Lamptey slipped, Simon Adingra slept.

And then you look at the rally which the hosts managed and which so nearly brought a goal through Adingra’s well-struck volley even before Danny Welbeck got in front of Thiago Silva for something of a rarity for him – a poacher’s goal.

Welbeck’s strikes tend to be spectacular, low-percentage efforts but this was a classic No.9’s finish.

Valentin Barco, Carlos Baleba and Odel Offiah were all positives from the second half. Webster saved an almost certain goal.

Albion fans will not be pleased their team lost, of course, and for some there will be concern that Crystal Palace can overhaul them on the final day if they beat an Aston Villa side who have every right to be “on the beach”.

This game did not have anything like the bitterness and hostility of Chelsea’s visit 18 months previously.

My perception – you might disagree – was that those who stayed until the end were not hugely disappointed by defeat.

Chelsea have, for two decades now, lived in some sort of fantasy land out of context with what has gone before and it appears they continue to keep finding the means to go on their merry way.

Albion continue to work hard to mix it with the traditional giants and relatively nouveaux riches.

Lewis Dunk's knee gave way this time, although he tried to battle on.

De Zerbi said: “I have to say thanks to a lot of players.

“Pascal Gross is not playing in a perfect condition.

“Bill Gilmour after his last injury is not playing so well but is giving his best.

“I am very happy for Adam Webster because in the last two games he is playing very well.

“Simon Adingra maybe can be tired and is playing not so well but we have to understand the situations.

“We are 14 players at the moment.

“But it has been important to play with Odel Offiah, for example.

“Valentin Barco played another good game.

“Facundo Buonanotte, I don’t know how many games he played but for sure he improved a lot this season. And Baleba as well.

“After Sunday, we try to organise the next season.

“It can be important, this season, because we have learned a lot.

“We will have more experience and experience is important because Julio Enciso can be next season in a good condition, I hope.

“We have to build next season considering how many problems we had this season.”

De Zerbi gave some indication as to what can improve as he replied to a suggestion that his team’s build-up was too laboured in the first half.

He said: “In the first half we made a mistake because we lost too many balls.

“We have a particular characteristic, different than Adam Lallana or other players.

“Julio Enciso is an individual player, Simon Adingra as well.

“We lost too many balls in a crucial position of the pitch, and we did not control the game for the first part of the first half.

“The biggest mistake was not to keep the ball.”

He told a reporter: “You hate the ball possession, but ball possession is to give the timing of the play.

“You can’t with every ball you touch score the goal.

“You have to keep the ball, you have to push the opponent deeper.

“You have to control the game.

“If you control the game, you can have a better reaction if you lose the ball.

“Otherwise, the game becomes box-to-box. And what do you need to play box-to-box? Power and speed.

“And physically Chelsea are better than Brighton.

“So we have to play in a different way. Every time Julio Enciso received the ball in the first half, or Adingra as well, they tried to go one-to-one and we lost the ball.

“And another two minutes’ ball possession for Chelsea.

“We have to accept the improvement of Julio Enciso because he is a big talent but he has to become better at reading in a different way different situations on the pitch.

“The best player is able to read in a different way the situation.”