Brighton & Hove Albion 1-2 Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace earned a remarkable win away to Brighton tonight, thanks to a brave rearguard action, the Seagulls’ blunt attack and an inspired substitution by Roy Hodgson.
The hosts dominated from start to finish, but Joel Veltman’s equaliser to Jean-Philippe Mateta’s opener was all they had to show before super-sub Christian Benteke fired a last gasp winner for the visitors. Premier League: Brighton vs Crystal Palace was a chance for both sides to pull further away from the relegation zone and Palace took their chance with both hands as they move on to 32 points and ten clear of the drop zone.
The pre-match Brighton vs Crystal Palace betting odds had the hosts odds on to win, and they had a hatful of chances but it was a familiar story as they failed to convert.
Highlights of the game
Brighton like to play football which is easy on the eye, and they began the game within that vein. But the problem they often have is that they struggle to turn possession into goals. In fact, Graham Potter’s side only mustered two shots in the opening half-hour despite having over 70 per cent possession.
And then the visitors showed them how to do it.
The Eagles were toothless in a recent 2-0 defeat at the hands of Leeds United but they went ahead tonight with their first real attack on the Brighton goal and it was a beauty. After a period of Seagulls’ possession, Palace broke quickly; Jordan Ayew sprinted down the right-wing before delivering a low cross which Jean-Philippe Mateta cleverly back-heeled for his first Palace goal on his second start for the club.
Check out the Brighton vs Crystal Palace highlights, it was cheeky but brilliant by the Frenchman.
Palace only had three touches in the Brighton Penalty area in the first half and scored from one of them, while Brighton huffed and puffed and achieved nothing.
Potter made a change at the break, bringing on Danny Welbeck to replace Steven Alzate and the ex-Manchester United striker almost made an immediate impact, meeting a low driven cross from Leandro Trossard, but he diverted his effort just wide.
We always expect some spice in the M23 derby and it came when Dan Burn chopped down Ayew to pick up a yellow card. But Brighton frustration turned to joy when they levelled as Joel Veltman seized on a loose ball and fired a beauty inside the near post to equalise.
Brighton had their tails up, and there was an almighty scramble in the Palace box as the Eagles defence threw themselves in the line of fire to deny Trossard and Welbeck. Potter threw Adam Lallana on and he came close to putting the Seagulls ahead when he met a low cross from Burn but his first-time effort flew just over the bar. And then Lallana had a glorious chance when Veltman squared to him with all the space and time he needed, but this time he skied his effort. Palace were hanging on and Roy Hodgson sent Christian Benteke on to try and shift the balance, which he did momentarily, bursting through the Brighton defence before blazing his shot over.
The Seagulls came back at the Eagles for the last ten minutes but then, with 94 minutes on the clock, the sucker punch was landed. Andros Townsend looped over a cross which Benteke met the first time and drilled his volley low into the far corner.
Brighton’s run of six matches unbeaten was the biggest in the club’s Premier League history and they will hardly believe they lost it tonight, having 25 shots to the Eagles’ three.
Brighton have won just once at home all season, and this was the seventh time they have gone behind in the campaign and they have failed to come back and win any.
The Eagles had lost 18 of the last 20 matches when Wilfried Zaha has been missing so this was a huge result for Roy Hodgson and a great confidence booster for the rest of the season.
Next Saturday Brighton take a trip to the West Midlands where they will meet Sam Allardyce’s West Brom. The Baggies are in 19th place and 11 points from safety. Here at SBOTOP, we’re backing the Seagulls to win at odds of around 1.99 but, while West Brom look doomed they have been battling hard in recent weeks to earn a point against both Manchester United and Burnley. The following week, Brighton entertain Leicester City as the Foxes continue their push to stay in the title race.
The Eagles have two home games to come, the first against Fulham. The Cottagers are in 18th place but they too are putting up a fight and have climbed to within three points of Newcastle United in 17th. Then Palace have a midweek date with Manchester United, an entirely different challenge and one which they would like to face with Zaha in the team.
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