Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Crystal Palace 2
Albion are back in relagation trouble as the £30 million rated Ben White booted the ball aimlessly in the air and allowed Palace to gain possession, leading to Christian Benteke’s 94th minute winner.
Albion had 25 efforts on goal compared with just three for Palace.
Albion had Palace penned back in their own half for a majority of the match – but, again, for all their glorious possession the Seagulls barely troubled Palace keeper Vicente Guaita.
Just before the half hour, previous Albion tormentor Jordan Ayew ran half the pitch and slid the ball across to Jean-Philippe Mateta.
His backheel eluded and nutmegged Robert Sanchez to put Palace in front totally against the run of play.
Albion just didn’t look capable of a reply and were frustrated as much by their inability to get in clear scoring positions as much as the visitors’ defensive prowess.
Without sounding sounding over-dramatic the second half was probably one of the most frustrating any Albion fan will ever have seen.
Danny Welbeck replaced Steve Alzate straight after the interval.
He had an early effort which bounced off his ankle and went wide.
Albion were at least level on 55 minutes as Leandro Trossard’s cross for Welbeck found Joel Veltman who curled the ball into the bottom corner for his first Albion goal.
The Seagulls then had a glut chances. Trossard forced a save from Guaita from close range. The Belgian then pounced on the rebound but his shot was blocked only to fall for Welbeck who saw his effort saved by the feet of the Palace keeper.
As Albion pressed down both flanks Maupay and Welbeck combined, the latter seeing his shot fly over.
The hardworking Alexis Mac Allister was surprisingly replaced by Adam Lallana. Not long after, Maupay played the ball to Lallana whose shot was deflected over.
Albion continued their measured intricate approach – Burn and Trossard combining to create a chance for Lallana who fired high and wide when very well placed.
Palace where just soaking the Albion pressure up and substitute Benteke did have a half chance he blasted over the bar.
With six minutes left, another Trossard cross saw Welbeck touch the ball off for substitute Alireza Jahanbakhsh but a combination of Eberechi Eze and Gary Cahill deflected his goalbound effort wide.
As the game drifted into added time Albion appeared to run out of steam and ideas – Ben White bringing the ball forward but playing almost hopelessly into touch and was berated by Maupay, Welbeck and Lewis Dunk.
With two minutes of added time left, Yves Bissouma won a free kick. The ball found White who failed to control it – then inexplicably with his back to play launched an overhead kick which was picked up by Ayew who strode forward and found Andros Townsend.
Townsend’s cross was drilled home by Benteke with just seconds left. Sanchez faced only three shots on target in the whole match and conceded two.
For the first time Graham Potter looked crestfallen as he sunk in his seat. Albion’s inability to score more than once in a match had grabbed national attention.
Brighton are now just four points in front of a resurgent Fulham and face a visit to West Brom at the Hawthorns on Saturday (27 February) for a real six pointer.
It will be Albion’s 140th Premier League match, with a positive result looking more vital than ever.
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