Brighton & Hove Albion 3 West Ham United 1
Albion secured a vital win over West Ham and completed the double over the east London club.
Glenn Murray bagged his 10th goal in all competitions after just seven minutes. Aaron Creswell clattered into Anthony Knockaert and the ball fell kindly for Murray who placed his shot past Adrian to give the Seagulls an early lead.
Albion, most notably through Knockaert, had a couple a chances to increase the advantage, with Knockaert just wanting to take an extra touch before pulling the trigger.
As Mark Noble and Sam Byram began to get a foothold in midfield, Noble opened up the chance for Javier Hernandez to skip through the Seagulls defence and fire a shot high into the net and for 1-1 with half an hour gone.
Albion had a great chance to go back in front as Jose Izquierdo and Gaetan Bong combined. Bong skipped clear of James Collins and crossed for Knockaert who scuffed his shot with Adrian already committed.
Collins then appeared to block another Knockaert shot with his hand but referee Roger East was in moved by Albion’s appeal for a penalty.
One of the biggest cheers of the first half was reserved for Leo Ulloa as he warmed up along the touchline.
Albion went back in front just before the hour mark. Pascal Gross’s corner wasn’t cleared away. The ball fell to Izquierdo on the edge of the area. He lifted a curling shot high into the air which just dipped under Adrian’s crossbar – a brilliant strike to be savoured on Match of the Day later.
If the Albion were expecting a West Ham onslaught it didn’t happen. Service to Hernandez was poor and he let them know it.
Noble tried his luck from distance but Ryan easily held the effort.
Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy looked as comfortable as they did in the Championship. And Ezequiel Schelotto became more important as the game went on as his runs from deep began to stretch West Ham even more.
With 27 minutes left Ulloa replaced Murray for his second Amex debut and, after putting himself about, looked on as Dale Stephens picked up a loose ball and found Gross who twisted and turned the West Ham defence before firing a shot low into the corner to make it 3-1.
Substitute Solly March had a chance to make it four, as did Izquierdo with a speculative effort.
Antonio came on for West Ham and looked dangerous but isolated.
The Seagulls deserved the win and now travel to Stoke next weekend (Saturday 10 February) where another three points could really change the course of their season.