Albion recorded a third successive win to move up to third in the Championship with a 3-0 victory over Brentford this evening.
First half goals from the excellent Anthony Knockaert and Tomer Hemed, who scored for the first time since early December, and an injury-time third from Jamie Murphy moved the Seagulls to within two points of second-placed Middlesbrough.
It was the first time Brighton had won by more than one goal this season, with all of their other 13 league victories this campaign by the odd goal.
Albion had a great chance to take the lead inside 90 seconds when Murphy’s shot was blocked and Knockaert could only poke the ball wide from eights after it got caught under his feet.
Just a minute later, Brentford’s Alan Judge broke clear down the right but blazed over in a lively start.
Knockaert again threatened on six minutes but his shot was deflected wide after a driving run, before Seagulls keeper Davd Stockdale produced a superb save diving high to his left to keep out Judge’s stinging shot from 15 yards.
After a quiet period in the game, Brighton went agonisingly close to taking the lead on 24 minutes when Murphy’s left-wing cross reached Bruno at the back post and his goalbound shot was deflected on to the bar by Brentford defender Harlee Dean.
The Seagulls went ahead just three minutes later when Knockaert fed Murphy out wide, he played the ball back inside to Knockaert, who took a couple of touches and then drilled the ball home low inside the far post from 15 yards for his goal for the club.
Albion could have then doubled their lead on 29 minutes as Beram Kayal sent Tomer Hemed racing clear on goal but he could only fire into the side netting with just Bees keeper David Button to beat.
The visitors had an excellent opening to level on 37 minutes when Judge’s corner reached Lasse Vibe at the back post but he was unable to divert the ball goalwards.
The Bees were made to pay two minutes later as Brighton doubled their lead when Knockaert sent a free kick out wide to Kayal, who skipped down the right and crossed for Hemed to head home. It was just the Israeli striker’s second goal in 22 games and first for ten matches.
The hosts had a couple of opportunities to grab a third early in the second but Hemed was unable to get enough on his header from Murphy’s cross, before Murphy blazed wildly over after excellent work by substitute James Wilson, who had come on for Bobby Zamora at half-time.
Albion almost scored a sublime third on 62 minutes when Murphy fed Wilson, who drove down the left and crossed for Knockaert, who volleyed over from ten yards.
Brentford, the top scorers away from home in the Championship, had much more of the possession in the second period and John Swift had a shot deflected over by Wilson after Stockdale was unable to claim a corner on 70 minutes, before sub Sergi Canos looped an effort wide from an angle after the ball fell favourably for him.
Albion looked to catch the Bees on the counter-attack and Knockaert was just unable to get on the end of Murphy’s low cross on 83 minutes, before Murphy got through on goal and coolly side-footed home Albion’s third just inside the far post in injury-time.
BRIGHTON: Stockdale; Bruno, Goldson, Dunk, Ridgewell; Knockaert, Stephens, Kayal (Sidwell 78), Murphy; Hemed (Crofts 69), Zamora (Wilson 45). Subs: Ankergren, Crofts, Calderon, Towell, LuaLua.
BRENTFORD: Button; Colin, Dean, Barbet, Bidwell; McEachran (MacLeod 82), Woods; Saunders (Canos 60), Swift, Judge; Vibe (Djuricin 62). Subs: Bonham, Kerschbaumer, O’Connell, Yennaris.
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