Six things we learned from Crystal Palace v Brighton

Brighton & Hove Albion completed the league double over rivals Crystal Palace with a 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park yesterday. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Saturday, 9th March 2019, 8:17 pm
Updated Saturday, 9th March 2019, 9:40 pm
Brighton celebrate Anthony Knockaert's winning goal. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Matchwinner lucky to be on the pitch?

Anthony Knockaert scored a stunning winner but was he lucky to still be on the pitch?

The Frenchman cut in from the right to score a spectacular winning goal 16 minutes from time against Albion's arch rivals.

However, Knockaert had been booked inside a minute for a challenge on Palace captain Luka Milivojevic - it was the quickest booking in a Premier League game for more than a decade.

Both players slid for the ball on the ground but Knockaert caught Miliojevic in a painful area with his studs up. Had it been later in the game, would Knockaert have seen red?

The vast majority of the social media jury on Twitter felt Knockaert was lucky to stay on the pitch.

If the incident had taken place with VAR in action, Knockaert may have seen red. But Albion would also have likely been awarded a penalty as Scott Dann took Shane Duffy to the ground from a free kick at 1-0.

Written in the stars

From the moment Glenn Murray was a late call-up to Albion's starting line-up, it was almost written in the stars that he would score his 100th league goal for the club.

Chris Hughton had named Florin Andone in the starting 11 after he came off the bench to score the winner against Huddersfield last week and Murray was named as one of the seven substitutes.

However Andone was injured in the warm-up and Murray got the nod to start just a few minutes before kick-off.

Murray, who played for Crystal Palace in between two spells for Brighton, had scored against the Eagles in three successive games for Albion before the game.

He made it goals in four consecutive matches against Palace with a stunning finish after James Tomkins made a mess of Lewis Dunk's clearance.

Before the match some Palace supporters near the press box were saying they don't know why the Eagles ever sold Murray - and they will be wondering that point even more right now.

Pulling the strings

Dale Stephens may get some stick from a section of Brighton fans but he was outstanding in the middle of the park.

Stephens broke up play, played the simple pass to ensure Albion kept possession and played some lovely long balls to team-mates out wide - one of which led to Anthony Knockaert cutting inside to score Brighton's winner.

Palace have been dangerous on the counter-attack so far this season but Albion restricted the amount of times the Eagles had the chance to burst forward on the break.

Stephens keeps things ticking over for the Seagulls and does the dirty work which may go unnoticed. There's little doubt Albion are a much better team when Stephens is in the team than not.

Passion comes flowing out

You could see what the win meant to Albion's players at the full-time whistle.

Lewis Dunk sprinted along the touchline in front of the Palace fans until he reached the Seagulls supporters at the final whistle, while Anthony Knockaert ran to the Albion fans and punched the air in celebration several times.

The win and the scenes afterwards will live long in the memory for Albion fans as it was the Seagulls' first victory at Palace since 2005.

It also saw Brighton complete the league double over their arch rivals for the first time since the 1983/84 season.

The win will give Albion belief and momentum to take into the rest of the season, beginning with next weekend's FA Cup quarter-final at Millwall.

Unhappy landmark for Hodgson

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson took charge of his 300th league game in England and will have been frustrated with the derby defeat.

His first game in England was as Bristol City boss in January, 1982, and he has since managed Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion and Palace in England.

Hodgson became the oldest man to manage a Premier League game at 71 years and 198 days last month when he overtook Bobby Robson and he was not in the best of moods in his post-match press conference.

Asked about the Anthony Knockaert challenge on a couple of occasions, he responded by saying: “I’m not terribly pleased to be discussing an incident in the first 45 seconds as there’s a lot to talk about in the game of football.

“Once again we come down to refereeing decisions and in fact from now with VAR it’s meat and drink for [the media] because that’s all that will ever be discussed after a game of football."

A huge three points

Albion's victory has turned out to be a huge three points after how the rest of the Premier League results went on Saturday afternoon.

Brighton's win in the lunchtime kick-off took them eight points clear of the drop zone. However, Cardiff, Southampton and Newcastle all won in the afternoon kick-offs and Albion went back to five points above third-from-bottom Cardiff.

Brighton are 15th in the top flight and with Huddersfield and Fulham doomed, it leaves one of Cardiff, Southampton, Burnley, Albion, Crystal Palace and Newcastle as the most likely candidates to drop down as well.

With home games still to come against Southampton, Newcastle, Cardiff and Bournemouth, Brighton will feel they have enough winnable games coming up to secure a third successive season in the Premier League.