Six things we learned from Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton crashed to a 4-2 defeat at Fulham last night, after leading 2-0 at half-time. Here's six things we learned from the game.
Second half calamity
Brighton fell apart in the second half at Craven Cottage after being in a strong position at half-time.
At 2-0 up and in complete control, few would have seen Fulham's fight-back coming in the second period.
It was as poor as Brighton have defended as a team in their time in the top flight. Defender Shane Duffy said afterwards that Albion stopped winning second balls and stopped pressing their hosts.
Calum Chambers' goal straight after half-time gave Fulham belief and Alexsandar Mitrovic then twice rose highest to head the Cottagers level and then into the lead. Both were preventable from a Brighton point of view as the ball bounced up in the penalty area, before Mitrovic beat Duffy and keeper Mathew Ryan to the ball to make it 2-2.
Albion felt the Fulham striker fouled Lewis Dunk when he made it 3-2 but the cross came in too easily and the hosts were also quickest to react to get their fourth after Tom Cairney's curling effort hit the bar.
It was the first time Brighton have conceded four in a Premier League game since the 4-0 defeat at Liverpool in the final game of last season.
Albion have to get back to being hard to score against to end a three-game losing run in the top flight.
Chris Hughton admitted how angry he was after his side's defeat at Craven Cottage.
It had been a happy hunting ground for Brighton, with victories on their last three trips.
With the score 2-0 at half-time, it appeared that run would continue but it was not to be the case.
Hughton's Albion have defended superbly for the majority of their time in the Premier League and he will be concerned, frustrated and disappointed at how easy Fulham got their goals.
The hosts also hit the woodwork on three occasions in the second half, so it could have been worse for the Seagulls.
As angry as he was after the game, Hughton will quickly move on and begin preparing for Saturday's game with Watford.
You wouldn't bet against the Seagulls going back to basics defensively and grinding out a 1-0 win.
First half dominance
For as bad as Brighton were in the second half, they were outstanding in the opening 45 minutes.
The only criticism at the break was they were not more than two goals ahead.
Glenn Murray scored twice in the first 17 minutes and could easily have had a first half hat-trick, while Davy Propper almost got his first Albion goal when he crashed a 25-yarder off the bar.
Martin Montoya and Gaetan Bong were excellent going forward from full-back and the Albion midfield ran the show.
They need to get back to the level of the first half performance in their upcoming games and quickly move on from the second period.
A thorn in Brighton's side
Aleksandar Mitrovic was again a thorn in Brighton's side, just as he was at the Amex in August.
The Serbian international is a difficult opponent due to his power and strength holding the ball up, winning long balls forward and bringing team-mates into play.
Brighton coped with Mitrovic well in the first half as he saw little of the ball.
He really came to life after the break and used his power and bravery to head home Fulham's equaliser.
His second may well have been given as a foul on Lewis Dunk on another day but he again used his strength to head home.
He had a couple of opportunities to get a hat-trick and Fulham will need more performances like that from Mitrovic if they are to get out of trouble at the bottom of the table.
Murray back on form
Glenn Murray was back on the scoresheet after going eight Premier League games without a goal.
The 35-year-old striker had not scored since the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at the beginning of December.
He coolly swept home Martin Montoya's cross for the opener after just three minutes and then poked home the second after Pascal Gross's overhead kick towards goal.
He could well have had a first half hat-trick as Fulham stopper Sergio Rico kept out one effort and Murray then turned another shot just wide.
Murray almost got the perfect hat-trick of right foot, left foot and header in the second period but Rico produced an outstanding save at full length to keep out the striker's header.
Murray now has ten Premier League goals for the season, just two behind the total he managed in the top flight last season.
A crucial ten days
Brighton remain seven points clear of the Premier League relegation zone but the next ten days appears a crucial period of the season.
The Seagulls host Watford on Saturday and then entertain Burnley the following weekend. A trip to West Brom in a FA Cup fourth round replay is in between the two top-flight fixtures.
A couple of positive league results and Albion will look comfortable in mid-table but two defeats and Brighton will be looking over their shoulder at the drop zone.
There could also be extra significance on the West Brom game as whatever happens against Watford, Brighton will want to take winning momentum into the match with Burnley on Saturday week.
After Watford and Burnley, Brighton then host Huddersfield, Cardiff, Southampton, Bournemouth and Newcastle in their following five Premier League matches. It's a run of games which will really make or break the season.
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