Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Newcastle United 1
- Mike Dean
Pascal Gross’ late equaliser for relegation-threatened Brighton & Hove Albion denied Newcastle United a third straight Premier League win in a row.
The Magpies were by far the better team in the opening half, making the most of a nervy start by the home side and duly taking the lead through the in-form Ayoze Pérez, who struck for the fifth time in just three games.
They never really got going after the interval, though, and after a period in the ascendancy, the Seagulls restored parity after German midfielder Gross connected with Glenn Murray’s knockdown.
That was Brighton’s first goal in 735 minutes of football in all competitions, though they were unable to find the second that would have all but made sure of their Premier League status for another season.
Neither side had registered a meaningful effort on goal prior to Pérez’s opener, though the Spaniard nearly engineered a shooting opportunity for himself early on after holding off challenges from two Seagulls defenders, only for Shane Duffy to intercept at the last moment. However, there was to be no stopping the forward after a fine team move nearly midway through the first half. Paul Dummett was afforded the time and space to advance before picking out Salomón Rondón with a pinpoint cross, and the Venezuelan unselfishly chested the ball down for Pérez to smash home in emphatic fashion.
Sadly for Pérez, that was to be his last involvement of the evening, as he was forced to leave the pitch with a hip injury a quarter of an hour later. In the meantime, United looked in complete control, spraying the ball about with confidence while the home support became increasingly frustrated. The shot-shy Seagulls hardly managed a touch in the Magpies’ penalty area during the opening half, with Martin Dúbravka essentially a spectator.
With Rondón having already had a sight of goal for Newcastle shortly after the break, Brighton finally engineered an opportunity of their own eight minutes into the second half, as substitute Solly March cut in from the right and swung in a cross for Murray, who headed awkwardly wide of the near post.
Another half-chance came and went for the Seagulls on the hour, as Duffy rose high to meet José Izquierdo’s corner but failed to keep a powerful header on target. It was the introduction of March, however, that appeared to galvanise Chris Hughton’s side, and had Murray connected properly with the winger’s low cross, Dúbravka might have been forced to produce more than a simple take.
Pressure was starting to mount on the Magpies, though, and with 15 minutes to go, Brighton levelled. The passage of play which led to the goal was a touch similar to that which brought about United’s; Murray met Bruno’s cross in a central position and simply helped the ball into the path of Gross, who stooped to head past the onrushing Dúbravka.
Kenedy’s wayward effort aside, United rarely looked like threatening Brighton ‘keeper Mat Ryan after surrendering their lead. Indeed, it was Brighton who ought to have emerged with all three points, with Murray somehow nodding Anthony Knockaert’s cross high of the target from a glorious position in the final minute of normal time.