Brighton & Hove Albion edged away from the relegation zone with an impressive 3-0 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday evening, leaving the Magpies in a whole world of trouble above the drop zone.
The first half-hour was played entirely in Newcastle’s half, with Brighton enjoying 72% of possession, but only managing a couple of semi-threatening shots on target. The half appeared to have ended when Isaac Hayden was stretchered off with a nasty-looking knee injury, but the Seagulls produced a genuine moment of quality to snatch the lead in injury time.
Leandro Trossard brought down a long ball with a wonderful first touch, turned to face the goal, dipped inside and sent a stunning, curling strike into Martin Dubravka’s bottom corner, handing Brighton a vital advantage.
Newcastle started the second half with a touch more ambition, and almost drew level inside five minutes, but Ryan Fraser’s bending effort struck the outside of the post. Their hope was dashed only three minutes later however, when Danny Welbeck picked up the ball on the left flank, cut inside and fired an unstoppable arrow beyond Dubravka.
And the game was thoroughly put to bed on 68 minutes, with Neal Maupay volleying home from a Pascal Gross cross, wrapping up all three points for the Seagulls, and condemning Steve Bruce to another turgid defeat.
Let’s check out the player ratings from a hugely significant evening of Premier League football.
Robert Sanchez (GK) – 6/10 – Had literally, completely, utterly, totally nothing to do. May as well have gone home and watched the match on the tele.
Ben White (CB) – 8/10 – Completely at ease, and enjoyed carrying the ball into midfield and beyond, adding an extra body into the attack.
Lewis Dunk (CB) – 7/10 – Dealt with any rare problems that came his way, and twiddled his thumbs in between strolling up the field to try and stick his head on the end of a corner.
Joel Veltman (CB) – 8/10 – Solid in a centre-back role against no threat whatsoever, and then lofted the ball towards Trossard to open the scoring. He had fun, that’s for sure.
Pascal Gross (RWB) – 8/10 – A good display overall, and notched the assist for the third with a nice cross. Could have added his name to the scoresheet, but his shot was saved.
Adam Lallana (CM) – 7/10 – Neat and tidy in possession, keeping Brighton moving and pulling Newcastle from side to side. A great addition to this team.
Yves Bissouma (CM) – 8/10 – Accidentally tumbled into Hayden after a challenge on Shelvey, which brought the midfielder’s game to an end. Looked visibly shaken by the incident. Recovered to deliver a typically dominant performance.
Leandro Trossard (AM) – 9/10 – A diamond in a swamp of first-half misery. Brilliant goal, pulling the ball down from the sky, turning and firing into the bottom corner. Stunner. Got the assist for the second, too. Man of the match.
Jakub Moder (LWB) – 8/10 – Extremely confident in his defensive work, and loved bombing forwards, too. Stung Dubravka’s palms with a nice strike from inside the box. A graceful runner on that flank. What a debut!
Danny Welbeck (ST) – 8/10 – Poor final ball after finding space on the left of the box. Needs to do better in those positions. Made amends with an unbelievable bolt from the blue, doubling the lead with a screamer from the edge of the area. That’s what he can do.
Neal Maupay (ST) – 8/10 – Saw a gap to goal open up ahead of him, but it was closed by the time he’d got a shot away. He does miss some really, really good chances. Took one in the second half though, and looked a very relieved man.
Alexis Mac Allister (AM) – 6/10
Andi Zeqiri (ST) – 6/10
Davy Propper (CM) – N/A
Martin Dubravka (GK) – 5/10 – Couldn’t get across his goal to stop Trossard’s accurate strike. Likewise for the second – it was just too perfect. Didn’t get near the third, either.
Javier Manquillo (RB) – 4/10 – Allowed Trossard to come inside and fire the opening goal with way too much ease. Gave Welbeck the same freedom, and was punished in similar fashion. Oh dear.
Jamal Lascelles (CB) – 5/10 – Out of position for Brighton’s first half effort and didn’t do enough to cover his teammates. Not close to closing down or blocking Welbeck’s strike.
Ciaran Clark (CB) – 5/10 – Did a decent job throwing himself in to block shots and clear crosses for a bit, but the basics only get you so far. Sloppy marking for the third.
Paul Dummett (LB) – 4/10 – Struggled against the constant stream of attacks that flowed down his flank. Looked desperately in need of help, and out of his depth.
Joe Willock (CM) – 5/10 – I wonder if he’ll be thanking Arsenal for this loan move when he returns to the Emirates. So few opportunities to impress while in possession, and subbed off. A mercy substitute, really.
Jonjo Shelvey (CM) – 5/10 – Offered precious little in terms of defence or attack. Not sure what his role is in this side, but it’s not ‘effective playmaker’.
Isaac Hayden (CM) – 6/10 – Gave his all in typically enthusiastic fashion, but was stretchered off with a nasty knee injury just before half-time. That could be his season over. Poor lad.
Joelinton (RW) – 5/10 – Control let him down far too often, and failed to make any sort of impact at anything in any position on the pitch. This could be said for many of his teammates.
Miguel Almiron (ST) – 4/10 – Ran around a lot, but rarely actually touched the ball, let alone broke into the Brighton half with it. No one wants to be the striker in this setup, especially if you’re not a proper striker.
Ryan Fraser (LW) – 5/10 – Charged down the left flank into endless cul-de-sacs, with an ocean of space lying between the Scotsman and his nearest teammate. Hit the post early in the second half – a massive moment for his side.
Jeff Hendrick (CM) – 5/10
Jacob Murphy (CM) – 5/10
Sean Longstaff (CM) – 5/10