Rafa Benitz took his side to the Amex on a high following a three-match winning run but it crashed down around them
TOMER HEMED burst Rafa Benitez’s bubble as Brighton secured their second win of the season.
Newcastle came to the Amex on a high following a three-match winning run.
But they were unable to make it four on the spin, as Seagulls striker Hemed struck in the second half to give Chris Hughton a victory over the team he bossed seven years ago.
This win will have tasted sweet for Hughton and Brighton, given they lost out on the Championship title to Newcastle in the dying moments on the final day of last season.
And, more importantly, it moved the Seagulls clear of the bottom three and up to 13th in the table.
Meanwhile the Toon, who hit the post through Jonjo Shelvey late on, are down to ninth, having been as high as fourth before this weekend’s fixtures.
And Benitez will no doubt be ruing his side’s missed chances, especially when the game was goalless in the first half.
The visitors had the first opportunity of the match, when Brighton keeper Mathew Ryan had to dive down to his right to keep out Mikel Merino’s volley from Matt Ritchie’s corner.
But the Seagulls also had a great chance to open the scoring when the ball fell to Pascal Gross ten yards out, only for the German to smash his shot straight in the face of team-mate Anthony Knockaert.
Joselu, though, should really have put Newcastle in front when Lewis Dunk allowed Ayoze Perez’s cross to run through to him, only for the Spanish striker to drag wide from ten yards.
Perez himself then blazed over when well placed inside the area.
And the Toon were made to pay when Brighton took the lead six minutes into the second half.
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Gross fired a free-kick over to the far side of the box, Dale Stephens headed the ball back into the centre and Tomer Hemed reacted sharply to hook the ball home.
The Seagulls would have had a second were it not for heroics from Toon stopper Rob Elliot, who, out of position, somehow managed to clear Solly March’s shot off his goalline with his feet after Bruno’s cross.
And though sub Shelvey hit the post direct from a corner after seeing Ryan off his line, Brighton were able to see the game out to register their second straight home win.
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- Before the game, Steven Gerrard said: “Rafael Benitez always focuses on small details, he’s a very organised coach.” But his defence looked a mess for Brighton’s opener.
- Before Saturday’s clash Brighton had not got a competitive win against Newcastle for over four years.
- Hemed’s hooked volley was Brighton’s first Premier League goal from a set-piece this season.
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- Newcastle’s Merino looks like a properly beautiful footballer
- In Tomer Hemed’s last 23 home league games, he’s had a hand in 20 goals. (15 goals, 5 assists.)
- If Dwight Gayle is a quick as they say he should have run away from this boring Newcastle performance by now.
WHAT THEY SAID
Brighton boss Chris Hughton said: “It was a hard-fought victory. They are a good side, They showed that in their last three games. There were not masses between the two teams.
“Overall we deserved it, not a lot in it, but we’ve deserved it. With seven points it is a decent return. We have learnt a lot in the game we have played so far.”
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez said: “We did enough to get a point at least. Both teams had chances. We had a lot of control and good chances at the end.
“The goal for me was a foul, pushing and blocking. But you cannot change the decision.
“We deserved more. We are still without too much experience in the Premier League. We have to manage these situations a bit better.”
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