Chris Hughton oversaw a triumphant return to St James’ Park as Brighton were fortunate to win 1-0 leaving Newcastle propping up the Premier League table.
Brighton lost their talisman and top scorer Glenn Murray to injury early into proceedings; the striker had to be substituted after clashing heads with Federico Fazio when contesting an ariel duel. Murray’s replacement Jurgen Locadia failed to establish himself as a focal point to the Seagulls attack, reducing the away side’s momentum after a purposeful start.
Muto’s loose pass across goal found Jose Izquierdo, whose shot was wrongfully given as a corner despite last touching Solly March. The resulting corner was floated deep to Shane Duffy at the back post, the Englishman headed the ball to the edge of the area, where Izquierdo exhibited exquisite technique to volley goalward. The Columbian international’s shot deflected twice before ending up in the Newcastle net, just before the half-hour mark. After some deliberation, the goal eventually was awarded to Berem Kayal, who got the final touch.
Newcastle were guilty of lethargic build-up play in early into the game; but steadily increased the intensity of their play as the half progressed, the momentum built towards the end of the opening 45 minutes transferred into the second half, ultimately failing to translate into goals though. Ayoze Perez is so often the Magpies creative spark; however, he frequently eluded involvement in creating chances and was easily managed out of the encounter by Brighton’s defence.
Brighton secured their first away win in the Premier League in over a year, and Lewis Dunk was instrumental in securing the three points. The majority of the home side’s openings came through crosses; but the Seagulls defender was a colossus in the air, continually heading the ball clear of danger.
Murray injury a concern
Glenn Murray has already managed five Premier League goals this season, so fans of the Seagulls will be concerned by the fact he had to leave the field of play after just eight minutes, due to a head to head collision with Fernandez. The striker was left laying on the floor unconscious after the challenge, and the severity of the injury is unknown. An extended absence from the starting eleven would be a severe blow as he approaches 100 goals for Brighton, currently remaining on 99. His replacement Locadia failed to replicate Murray’s presence on the pitch and often cut an isolated figure in attack.
Brighton fortunate to gain victory
Despite a strong defensive display Chris Hughton’s side rarely threatened going forwards and often lacked cohesion in attack. Initially, Brighton exhibited intensity when going forwards, although Murray’s injury stifled their momentum. The goal came in a fortunate manner; a corner was wrongfully awarded to the Seagulls after the ball last touched Solly March.
Shane Duffy won the resulting corner into the back post and looped a header to the edge of the area, where Izquierdo was waiting to volley. The Columbian exhibited outstanding technique to strike the ball first time but had a touch of luck when his shot took two deflections, the last of which coming off Beram Kayal, to find its way past Martin Dubravka and into the Newcastle net. After this, the away side rarely threatened Dubravka’s goal again but defended exceptionally to clinch victory.
Wasteful Newcastle lack confidence
The hosts created an abundance of chances, having 27 shots at Matt Ryan, though only managed six on target. Muto was provided with the best opportunity for Rafa Benitez side when he headed the ball over from eight yards after Ryan saved Perez’s shot. The miss only served to highlight the lack of composure Newcastle have had in front of goal this season managing a meagre six goals. Joselu’s inclusion in the second half had little effect to change this, and it became increasingly apparent that the side now at the bottom of the table are in desperate need of a source of a consistent goalscorer.
Man of the Match: Mat Ryan
Ryan’s early save while one on one with Perez was pivotal in maintaining Brighton’s foothold in the fixture, although he was lucky Muto missed the follow-up effort. However, take nothing away from the Australian’s performance; he commanded his own penalty area, regularly collecting a bombardment of Newcastle crosses or corners. As well as this, he impressively saved Jonjo Shelvey’s deflected free-kick, tipping the ball over the bar to maintain his sides lead and ensure they left the North-East with all three points.