Brighton may escape relegation, play 1-1 draw with Newcastle

Pascal Gross scores for Brighton
Pascal Gross scores for Brighton

Glenn Murray missed a great late chance to all but secure Brighton’s Premier League status as Chris Hughton’s side earned a point against Newcastle.

With relegation rivals Cardiff having lost at Fulham earlier, victory for the Seagulls would have moved them six points clear of the Welsh club with two games remaining and a superior goal difference. Premier League safety would have been all but secured.

However, for much of the match they struggled to test a Newcastle side who took a first-half lead through Ayoze Perez’s brilliant strike.

The home side had not produced an effort on target until the 75th minute when Pascal Gross headed in the equaliser after Glenn Murray had nodded Bruno’s cross into his path.

And with a few minutes remaining, Murray should have snatched victory for the Seagulls but headed over from four yards.

Safety is still in Brighton’s hands, but if Cardiff lose at home to Crystal Palace next Saturday then their worries will be over.
Will Murray’s miss prove crucial?

Hughton had a look of despair on the touchline after Murray’s last-gasp miss, but it is debatable whether his side would have deserved to take all three points.

Once again they were devoid of invention in attack and broke a club record of 11 hours and 13 minutes without a goal, which had been held since 1970.

At the other end, his defence struggled in the first half against attacking duo Perez and Salomon Rondon, who combined again for Newcastle’s opener.

Paul Dummett delivered the ball into the area for the Venezuelan target man, whose chested knock-down was lashed home by Spaniard Perez.

The introduction of Solly March in the second half improved Brighton as an attacking force, although their equaliser came from another familiar forward combination of Gross and Murray. On this occasion, Bruno’s ball from the wing was headed into the path of the German, who nodded past Martin Dubravka from close range.

With confidence rediscovered, Brighton went searching for a winner and thought they had it when Barrow-born Murray met Anthony Knockaert’s delivery – however he sent his effort over the bar.

How crucial a miss that might prove to be will be known in the coming weeks.
In-form Magpies in cruise control

How Hughton would love to be if Rafael Benitez’s position. Both managers have spent relatively modest sums in transfer windows, but the Spaniard appears to have got the better out of what has been at his disposal this season.

For a second successive season Benitez’s defence and attack have peaked in the second half of the campaign having been as low as 18th back in January.

Rondon and Perez have been key to this revival and have now combined for seven Premier League goals this season – the most by a Newcastle duo in one season since 1999-2000 when Alan Shearer and Nolberto Solano managed it eight times.

And bar the Seagulls’ two second-half chances, the Magpies’ defence – currently the seventh tightest in the league – looked untroubled and compact.

It all bodes well for next season, that is if Newcastle can hold on to their manager.

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