Benteke stuns dominant Brighton with last-minute winner

Christian Benteke’s 95th-minute goal gave Crystal Palace the ultimate smash-and-grab victory to beat dominant Brighton 2-1 at the Amex Stadium on Monday night.

Palace’s two goals came from their only two shots on target – and touches in the Brighton box – in the whole game, with Benteke steering Andros Townsend’s cross back across goal and beyond Robert Sanchez deep into second-half injury time to nick three points.

The visitors had spent most of the game defending, with Brighton registering 25 shots and dominating across the 90 minutes, and looked like they would be forced to settle for just a point through Joel Veltman’s 55th-minute goal.

His close-range finish, his first for the club, had cancelled out Jean-Philippe Mateta’s own debut goal for Palace before half-time, back-heeling Jordan Ayew’s low ball past Sanchez for a wonderful opener.

But thanks to Benteke’s last-minute heroics, Palace move above Southampton into 13th, with 32 points, while Brighton remain in 16th, four above the relegation zone.

Player ratings

Brighton: Sanchez (5), Burn (6), Dunk (5), White (5), Veltman (7), Gross (7), Bissouma (6), Alzate (5), Mac Allister (5), Maupay (6), Trossard (6).

Subs: Welbeck (5), Lallana (5), Jahanbakhsh (5).

Crystal Palace: Guaita (7), Ward (7), Cahill (7), Kouyate (7), Mitchell (7), Milivojevic (6), Riedewald (6), Townsend (7), Eze (5), Ayew (8), Mateta (7).

Subs: Benteke (7), McCarthy (n/a).

Man of the match: Jordan Ayew.

Eagles snatch points from wasteful Brighton

A slow start at the Amex in one of the Premier League’s more informal derbies was punctured 28 minutes in as Mateta, the latest Crystal Palace striker hoping to solve their attacking woes, deceived Robert Sanchez with a beautiful turn to backheel Ayew’s low cross home with the first shot on target of the game.

It was the first goal Graham Potter’s side had conceded on home soil since January 2, and was worthy of breaking the duck. But it spelled out a familiar tale of Brighton dominance and wasteful finishing – which continued until the break, with Veltman and Alexis Mac Allister both missing opportunities to level.

A change of both shape and personnel at half-time, with the introduction of Danny Welbeck, got the Seagulls firing again from the break and within two minutes of his introduction, he diverted Trossard’s driven ball wide from close-range.

Even with another attacking player on the pitch, it was a Brighton defender who pulled them level nine minutes into the second period, as Veltman found himself well-placed to take a loose ball from a tackle on Welbeck to beat Guaita at his near post with a powerful effort.

Brighton’s stats-defying defeat

Number Rank in 20/21 Brighton season
Shots 25 1st
Expected goals 2.5 3rd
Touches in opposition box 52 1st
Corners 13 1st
Possession 75% 1st

With an hour gone the hosts should have completed the turnaround, but Trossard’s poor connection with Dan Burn’s cross let Palace off the hook yet again.

Substitute Adam Lallana was then denied by a last-ditch Gary Cahill block as the chances continued to rack up, before the ex-Liverpool man wasted another fine opportunity by firing over when unmarked.

If anyone was going to score, it was Brighton. But just as their inability to finish games off has proven the curse of their season, so it proved deep into injury time.

With 52 seconds left of the five minutes added on, Townsend’s run down the left flank and back-post cross found Benteke, who caught it perfectly to fire back across Sanchez and into the far corner for a winner both sides could barely believe come the full-time whistle.

Man of the match – Jordan Ayew

In what was often a thankless task in a game where Palace managed only three shots across 90 minutes, Ayew’s running played a major part in their opener – beating Burn before providing the cross for Mateta’s goal – but his work without the ball was just as important.

Only Townsend made more than his four tackles across 90 minutes, while only Tyrick Mitchell, Luka Milivojevic and Townsend covered more ground.

“It’s down to the amount of work he’s done,” said Sky Sports’ Alan Smith. “He set up the goal, the work-rate’s been incredible. His defenders will certainly be grateful for it.”

Opta facts

  • Brighton have never won a Premier League game on a Monday (D6 L3), with only Hull City (10) playing more games on this day of the week without ever winning in the competition’s history.
  • Crystal Palace have accrued their joint-best tally of points in a Premier League season after 25 games (32 pts), matching their haul at this stage in 2015/16.
  • Crystal Palace’s opener ended a run of 343 minutes without conceding at home in the Premier League for Brighton, since a 3-3 draw with Wolves at the Amex on January 2nd.
  • Crystal Palace mustered just four shots against Brighton this season, the joint-lowest tally across two games by any side against an opponent in a Premier League season (since 03/04) but managed to score with three of them (1-1 in October and 2-1 in this game).
  • Courtesy of goals from Jean-Philippe Mateta and Joel Veltman, both Crystal Palace and Brighton boast 12 different scorers in the Premier League this season – excluding own goals, only Chelsea (15), Manchester City and West Ham (14 each) have had more different scorers in the competition this campaign.
  • Crystal Palace striker Jean-Philippe Mateta scored via his only touch in the Brighton box, thus becoming the 123rd French scorer in the Premier League, with only England posting more different scorers in the competition (848).

What’s next?

Brighton face a six pointer on Saturday with a trip to 19th-placed West Brom, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 2.45pm; Kick-off at 3pm.

Crystal Palace host resurgent Fulham in the Sunday lunch-time game in a London derby at Selhurst Park; Kick-off at 12pm.