Six things we learned from Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace

Albion celebrate Leon Balogun's goal in last night's win against Crystal Palace. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Albion celebrate Leon Balogun's goal in last night's win against Crystal Palace. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Brighton played with ten men for more than an hour but beat local rivals Crystal Palace 3-1 at the Amex last night. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Abundance of character

Going down to ten men inside half-an-hour is never easy but when it's against your local rivals, it almost makes it a mountain to climb.

Albion led 1-0 when Shane Duffy was sent off for violent conduct and many Seagulls supporters may well have feared the worst.

But Brighton have plenty of character in their squad and are a hard team to break down - as they showed for more than an hour with ten men at Cardiff before suffering a late defeat and Albion were games away to both Manchester City and Liverpool for long periods.

Leon Balogun's goal so soon after Duffy's red card gave Albion something to really hold on to and the Seagulls were then excellent in their defensive duties all over the pitch.

Bernardo superbly cleared a shot off the line, before Florin Andone made it 3-0 and really put the Seagulls in the driving seat.

The Albion players threw themselves into the way of shots, blocked crosses and worked tirelessly to win the ball back throughout the second half as they held on to record a memorable win.

You could see what the win meant to the players, particularly Lewis Dunk, at the final whistle as they celebrated with the fans.

Luck on Albion's side

There was much talk last month about the goals Albion conceded to Cardiff and Leicester.

Sol Bamba was in a offside position before he scored the winner for Cardiff deep in injury-time and Kelechi Iheanacho came back from an offside position to win Leicester's equalising penalty.

VAR is set to come into the Premier League for next season but had it been in play this year, both of those goals would have been overturned.

They say things even themselves out over the course of a season and luck was on Brighton's side last night with Kevin Friend's decision to award Albion a penalty on 24 minutes.

Replays showed Palace midfielder James McArthur won the ball as he looked to stop Jose Izquierdo but Friend pointed to the spot and Glenn Murray put Albion ahead from 12 yards.

A Premier League first

Brighton achieved a Premier League first in last night's win.

For the first time in the 26 years of the Premier League, two substitutes scored in the first half of a game.

First, Nigerian international Leon Balogun netted on 31 minutes and within seconds of replacing Pascal Gross as Brighton boss Chris Hughton looked to shore up his defence after Shane Duffy's red card.

Shortly afterwards, Glenn Murray went off with a shoulder injury and his replacement Florin Andone scored a stunning individual goal in the final action of the first half.

What an introduction

Leon Balogun had been on the pitch for just a matter of seconds when he doubled Albion's lead with a stunning half-volley.

It came at a pivotal time in the game as Shane Duffy had just been sent off for violent conduct against Patrick van Aanholt.

It's been a frustrating time for the Nigerian international since joining Albion in the summer owing to the form of Duffy and Lewis Dunk.

This was just his fourth appearance of the season in the Premier League but he more than grasped the opportunity.

Balogun afterwards felt he didn't reach the level he wanted to with his performance. He gave away the penalty for Palace's late consolation but added he should focus on the positives and not the negatives of his performance.

Set-piece threat

Brighton have been clinical from set-pieces so far this season - and were again in the win against Palace.

With two of the goals coming from set-pieces, Albion have now scored 13 of their 19 goals this season from set-plays.

The Seagulls' opener came from the penalty spot after Jose Izquierdo went down under a James McArthur challenge and Glenn Murray scored from the penalty spot.

Leon Balogun then crashed home the second from a Solly March corner, moments after Shane Duffy's red card.

Last season Albion struggled defending set-pieces and conceded a number of goals from corners. Their fortune has changed this season and Seagulls fans will long hope their success from attacking set-plays continues.

Worth the wait

Owing to injury, Albion fans had to wait to see Florin Andone in action for the club but he has shown his quality and work-rate in the last two matches.

Andone scored the winner in his first start for the Seagulls' in Saturday's 2-1 win at Huddersfield. His runs down the channels and in behind the defence caused the Terriers defenders several problems and his clever movement led to the winning goal.

Last night, his goal was all about hard work, perseverance and skill.

There appeared little danger from a Palace perspective when Brighton cleared the ball long but Andone's pace got him past James Tomkins and even when the Palace defender looked to have recovered the situation, Andone nipped in to coolly side-foot the ball home past Wayne Hennessey.

A number of Albion's players have already praised Andone's impact and also his bubbly personality. His goal against Palace has quickly made him a fans' favourite as well.


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Match report: Brighton 3, Crystal Palace 1