Christian Benteke’s stoppage-time goal gave Crystal Palace a smash-and-grab Premier League win at rivals Brighton, who are now in danger of being drawn into a relegation battle.
The visitors had opened the scoring against the run of play, with Jean-Philippe Mateta backheeling Jordan Ayew’s cross in from their first attack of the game.
But Brighton’s dominance in possession was rewarded with an equaliser after the break when Joel Veltman swept a left-foot effort into the bottom-right corner.
The hosts spurned several excellent chances to go ahead before Benteke superbly volleyed in the winner against the run of play in the final minute of added time.
It proved to be a remarkable conclusion to the contest with Brighton enjoying 75% of the ball, registering 25 shots on goal to Palace’s three and forcing 13 corners while conceding none.
The result sees Palace move up a place to 13th but the Seagulls remain 16th, just four points above a resurgent Fulham in 18th.
Wasteful Brighton rue missed chances
Having come into this fixture on the back of a six-game unbeaten run Brighton fans could have been forgiven for looking at the second half of the season with optimism.
However, they will now be concerned at the prospect of their side being dragged into a fight for top-flight survival over the coming months.
While Graham Potter’s side play adventurous and easy-on-the-eye football, their ability to score goals has undoubtedly contributed to their current predicament.
Ten days after frustratingly failing to convert any of their 26 shots on goal against Aston Villa, they at least went one better this time around courtesy of their Dutch international defender Veltman.
But Potter will desperately hope that his forward players can now step up and provide the firepower that they will need to edge to safety.
The likes of top scorer Neal Maupay, who has scored just three goals in his last 19 Premier League appearances, endured another difficult evening, while Danny Welbeck, Lewis Dunk, Pascal Gross and Adam Lallana were all wasteful when presented with good opportunities.
Hodgson’s plan works to perfection
Arriving on the south coast without the influential Wilfried Zaha, and after disappointing defeats to Leeds and Burnley, few would have expected Palace to collect maximum points from this encounter.
However, while the manner in which they achieved it was extraordinary, manager Roy Hodgson will be delighted by the way his side rolled up their sleeves and soaked up sustained periods of pressure.
He will also feel vindicated by the five changes he made to his team from their defeat at Turf Moor.
Joel Ward and Tyrick Mitchell both completed their defensive duties diligently, while no player made more clearances than Gary Cahill (nine) at the heart of the Eagles’ defence.
On-loan Mainz forward Mateta had the physical presence to hold off Ben White before scoring a delightful opener, while Andros Townsend, another player returning to Hodgson’s starting XI, dug out a wonderful late cross for Benteke to score the winner.
‘It’s sore’ – what they said
Brighton manager Graham Potter speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “It’s sore, I’m bitterly disappointed with the result because I thought we were the team pushing all the way, trying to get the winner ourselves.
“We have to respond, accept it and as painful as it is we have to move forward. You are watching the game, watching the team, we are trying to find the solution to score and to get punished at the end is a painful one.
“That’s the nature of the league, how punishing it is, we have done a lot but clearly not enough. Whoever it had come against it would be painful because we were dominant in the game. The boys were doing everything to score, it felt like it was always in their penalty box never mind their half.
“I don’t think we played badly, but results-wise we have to be disappointed and respond.”
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson to BBC Sport: “It’s always great to score in the last minute, especially when we had to soak up a lot of pressure.
“The defending was very good, they threw their bodies on the line. We worked hard to make certain they didn’t get many sights at goal. We didn’t create as many chances we would like. The two we created from crosses were goals.
“Tonight from the very start we showed we’d make it hard for them to score. The bodies were there, headers were there, blocks were there. We took maximum advantage from the counter-attack.
“We get so hung up on statistics these days. The game is decided by goals. Goals are a question of how well you take your chances and defend theirs.”
Monday Blues for Brighton -the stats
- Brighton have never won a Premier League game on a Monday (D6 L3), with only Hull City (10) playing more games on this day of the week without ever winning in the competition’s history.
- Crystal Palace have accrued their joint-best tally of points in a Premier League season after 25 games (32 pts), matching their haul at this stage in 2015/16.
- Crystal Palace’s opener ended a run of 343 minutes without conceding at home in the Premier League for Brighton, since a 3-3 draw with Wolves at the Amex on January 2nd.
- Crystal Palace mustered just four shots against Brighton this season, the joint-lowest tally across two games by any side against an opponent in a Premier League season (since 03/04) but managed to score with three of them (1-1 in October and 2-1 in this game).
- Courtesy of goals from Jean-Philippe Mateta and Joel Veltman, both Crystal Palace and Brighton boast 12 different scorers in the Premier League this season – excluding own goals, only Chelsea (15), Manchester City and West Ham (14 each) have had more different scorers in the competition this campaign.
- Crystal Palace striker Jean-Philippe Mateta scored via his only touch in the Brighton box, thus becoming the 123rd French scorer in the Premier League, with only England posting more different scorers in the competition (848).
- Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew registered his third assist in six Premier League games, just one fewer than he managed in his 72 appearances for the club in the competition before that (four).
- Joel Veltman netted his first Premier League goal for Brighton in his 19th appearance for the club, with his seventh shot and third shot on target in the competition.
- Christian Benteke’s winner for Crystal Palace came on 94 minutes and eight seconds – the third latest winning goal in a Premier League game this season after Bruno Fernandes in September (Man Utd v Brighton – 99:45) and Pedro Neto in December (Wolves v Chelsea 94:42).
- Brighton’s Lewis Dunk made his 132nd Premier League appearance this evening, with all of those appearances coming as a starter – only 11 outfield players have a better 100% record in the competition’s history.
- No player has started more Premier League games for Crystal Palace than Joel Ward (205, level with Wilfried Zaha).
Brighton travel to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion in their next Premier League match on Saturday, 27 February (15:00 GMT)
Crystal Palace host Fulham in their next top-flight game on Sunday, 28 February (12:00).
Brighton & Hove Albion
- 33BurnBooked at 53mins
- 34VeltmanBooked at 84mins
- 13GroßSubstituted forJahanbakhshat 81′minutes
- 17AlzateSubstituted forWelbeckat 45′minutes
- 10Mac AllisterSubstituted forLallanaat 68′minutes
- 25EzeSubstituted forMcCarthyat 90+1′minutes
- 9J Ayew
- 14MatetaSubstituted forBentekeat 75′minutes
- 3van Aanholt
Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Crystal Palace 2.
Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Crystal Palace 2.
Hand ball by Dan Burn (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Crystal Palace 2. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Andros Townsend with a cross.
Yves Bissouma (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace).
Substitution, Crystal Palace. James McCarthy replaces Eberechi Eze.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Tyrick Mitchell.
Attempt blocked. Danny Welbeck (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Gary Cahill.
Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Danny Welbeck.
Joël Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Joël Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Joel Ward.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Alireza Jahanbakhsh replaces Pascal Groß.
Attempt missed. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic with a headed pass.
Foul by Dan Burn (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Christian Benteke replaces Jean-Philippe Mateta.