Newcastle beat Brighton in Premier League promotion showdown
Magpies leapfrog Seagulls at the top of the Championship after stealing all three points with two late goals
Brighton 1 Newcastle United 2
Newcastle United took a huge step towards a Premier League return as they regained top spot in the Championship with a win over promotion rivals Brighton. And the Magpies lived up to their nickname as they pinched the points from the Seagulls with two goals in the last ten minutes.
The result moves Newcastle two points clear of their South Coast rivals at the top of the Championship and keeps them firmly on course for a swift return to the top flight.
Brighton dominated the opening exchanges with Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow making two smart stops to keep out their hosts. But he was beaten from the penalty spot on 14 minutes after Brighton were awarded a controversial spot-kick by referee Bobby Madley. In what appeared to be a 50-50 tussle for the ball, the official adjudged that Ciaran Clark had fouled Glenn Murray as they jostled for position at a corner, and the latter stepped up to fire home the penalty.
Brighton held their slender advantage until 81 minutes when Newcastle levelled thanks to a strong contender for freakiest goal of the season. Christian Atsu miscued a shot from the edge of the penalty area and as the ball headed towards the corner flag it struck the heel of Mohamed Diame and looped up and over the heads of the Brighton defence and into the net.
Brighton were stunned, allowing Newcastle to wrest back the initiative and eventually score the winner a minute from time when substitute Ayoze Perez converted Atsu's cross.
"We created a lot of good situations before we got a little bit lucky," said Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez. Nonetheless the Newcastle manager believed his side deserved some good fortune considering the penalty that went against them. "Watching the replay of the penalty, he was pushing our player," said Benitez. " But the reaction of the team was good. We were creating chances and you have to be pleased with the performance of everyone, on the pitch and off the bench."
Describing Newcastle's equaliser as "a sickener", Brighton boss Chris Hughton said: "I don't think it was a result we deserved... but then it's one of those really unfortunate goals. I wondered at the time how it had gone in. But that gives Newcastle momentum going into that last period. I didn't think we were at our best today but I still thought we would go on to win."