Brighton boosted their hopes of Premier League survival by cruising to an emphatic 3-0 victory over relegation rivals Newcastle.
The hosts dominated the opening 45 minutes and got their reward on the stroke of half-time when Leandro Trossard’s curled effort found the bottom corner.
After the break, Ryan Fraser struck the woodwork for the visitors but two minutes later they were further behind as Danny Welbeck’s strike doubled Graham Potter’s side’s advantage.
Neal Maupay rounded off a brilliant evening for Brighton, further deepening Newcastle’s problems.
The pressure is firmly on Toon boss Steve Bruce with just nine games remaining in the campaign. His side sit just two points above the relegation places, albeit with a game in hand on 18th-placed Fulham, who lost to Leeds on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, victory makes the table better reading for Brighton, who move six points clear of the drop zone.
How the Premier League table stands…
How Brighton pulled six points clear of the drop zone…
Brighton started brightly and Jakub Moder forced Martin Dubravka into a low save at his near post inside the opening five minutes.
After 30 minutes, the hosts were dominating possession and had had five shots, including two on target, with Newcastle yet to test Robert Sanchez in the home goal.
Newcastle had to wait until the 37th minute for their first opportunity when Isaac Hayden headed wide at the far post.
Brighton: Sanchez (6), Veltman (7), Dunk (7), White (6), Moder (8), Bissouma (8), Lallana (7), Trossard (8), Gross (8), Welbeck (8), Maupay (8).
Subs: Zeqiri (n/a), Propper (n/a).
Newcastle: Dubravka (5), Manquillo (6), Lascelles (6), Clark (5), Dummett (5), Hayden (6), Shelvey (5), Almiron (5), Willock (6), Fraser (6), Joelinton (5).
Subs: Hendrick (6), Murphy (6), Longstaff (n/a).
Man of the match: Danny Welbeck.
Moments later, Maupay had a good opportunity at the other end after being picked out by Trossard’s cut back, but his shot was blocked by Ciaran Clark.
Matters got worse for Newcastle just before the half-time break, when Hayden was hurt in an accidental collision with Yves Bissouma, and he had to be carried off on a stretcher.
Moments later, Brighton took the lead, having dominated throughout the first half, with Trossard picking up the ball on the edge of the box before turning and curling it into the bottom-right corner.
- Brighton manager Graham Potter made one change from the team which beat Southampton last Sunday. Dan Burn was on the bench after being substituted with a hamstring problem in that game, with Jakub Moder coming into the starting line-up.
- Newcastle boss Steve Bruce made two changes from the draw with Aston Villa, with Miguel Almiron and Javier Manquillo returning. Emil Krafth and Dwight Gayle dropped out, with the former not included in the matchday squad.
Newcastle created their first meaningful opportunity at the start of the second half when Miguel Almiron released Fraser in space on the left, and the Scotland international curled the ball towards the far corner, only for it to strike the upright.
However, Potter’s men responded immediately, with Welbeck doubling their advantage. The forward cut inside onto his right foot before curling the ball beyond the dive of Dubravka and into the back of the net from 20 yards.
In the 68th minute, Brighton made sure of the points when Pascal Gross crossed for Maupay, who volleyed the ball into the net to end a run of nine games without a goal.
Souness: Newcastle were passive
Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness:
“When you lose, you want to be playing as soon as possible, but they [Newcastle] have got two weeks to get back on the horse and look for a win.
“They looked a sorry group tonight, from start to finish. For me, they were passive throughout, they looked like a team accepting their lot.
“That’s not a good sign, that doesn’t bode well for the future.
“They’re still in a great position, you wouldn’t want to be swapping with Fulham, but looking at them, they need to get some momentum going from somewhere, some belief, some fire in their bellies.
“They need to find some fire. A bit of aggression, not accepting people scoring easy goals against you, not accepting that going 1-0 behind means it’s over.”
Merson: Newcastle fans must be realistic
Speaking on Soccer Saturday earlier in the day, Sky Sports‘ Paul Merson said Newcastle fans may need to lower their expectations and accept the current limitations at the club.
What the managers said…
Brighton boss Graham Potter: “Really pleased, the performance was fantastic. The players were brave from the start and were smart.
“I thought we were the dominant team in the game and deserved to win. Overall, we played well, we showed a really good attitude, good courage, and I’m delighted for the players.
“They’ve had to suffer, so it’s nice to get three points off that performance.”
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce: “Certainly was tough, we were simply beaten by a far better team on the night. It was a very difficult evening for us, we have to accept it, and take responsibility for it, because at times it was a little bit too easy for Brighton. Take nothing away from our opponents, they were better in every department.
“Without the ball and with it, it was a big problem. We kept surrendering possession back to them, and we all know they’re a very decent football team, and we didn’t do enough without the ball either. When that happens, it becomes a very difficult evening for you.
“We needed to get to half-time and didn’t quite get there. On the night we were well beaten by the far better team on the night.”
Man of the match – Danny Welbeck
Efan Ekoku on co-commentary for Sky Sports:
“There were some brilliant performances from Brighton, but for me, Danny Welbeck was the real difference maker. He not only grabbed a goal but produced a top-class, all-round performance.
“He was always a threat going forward. His link-up play was also superb, alongside scoring a fine goal.”
Opta stats – Brighton at the double against Newcastle
- Brighton have beaten Newcastle home and away in a league season for the first time since 1978-79 (In the second tier).
- Brighton have played more Premier League games against Newcastle (8) without ever losing than against any other opponent in the competition (W4 D4).
- Brighton have won two of their last five Premier League home games (D1 L2), as many as in their previous 23 in the competition at the Amex. They’ve already picked up more league victories at the Amex Stadium in 2021 (2) than they did in the whole of 2020 (1).
- Newcastle have scored just one goal in their eight Premier League meetings with Brighton – only Sheffield United have faced a side more often while netting as few as one goal in the competition (1 goal in 10 games vs Man City).
- Newcastle have won just one of their last 10 Premier League away games (D1 L8), failing to score in seven of those matches.
Following the international break, Brighton travel to Manchester United on Sunday, April 4 at 7.30pm. Meanwhile, Newcastle host Tottenham at St James’ Park on the same day, Kick-off at 2.05pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Read More: Sports News