Villa, Brighton Crash To Shock FA Cup Exits

Aston Villa’s Ivorian striker Jonathan Kodjia (R) has an unsuccessful shot during the English FA Cup third round football match between Fulham and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage in Fulham, west London on January 4, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Aston Villa and Brighton suffered FA Cup embarrassment as the Premier League clubs paid the price for making a raft of team changes in their shock third round exits on Saturday.

Villa are languishing just above the relegation zone after a difficult first season back in the top-flight and boss Dean Smith prioritised that survival battle with nine changes against second tier Fulham.

Anthony Knockaert gave Fulham the lead at Craven Cottage with a 54th minute curler as the former Brighton forward grabbed his first goal since September.

Anwar El Ghazi equalised for Villa in the 63rd minute, but the understudies couldn’t hold on as Harry Arter won it with a 30-yard thunderbolt with 16 minutes left.

Midfielder Arter had only been on the pitch for one minute and 45 seconds before scoring his first goal since November 2017.

Brighton endured the same fate as Villa as Albion boss Graham Potter made seven changes from their New Year’s Day draw against Chelsea and second tier Sheffield Wednesday took advantage with a 1-0 win at the Amex Stadium.

Adam Reach blasted Wednesday into the fourth round with a deflected long-range strike in the 65th minute.

Watford blew a three-goal lead in a dramatic 3-3 draw against third tier strugglers Tranmere.

Last season’s FA Cup runners-up were three up by half-time at Vicarage Road as Tom Dele-Bashiru, Nathaniel Chalobah and Roberto Pereyra netted.

But they lost the recent momentum from new boss Nigel Pearson’s arrival as Connor Jennings and Emmanuel Monthe scored in the second half before Paul Mullin’s 87th minute penalty equaliser was followed by a red card for Pereyra.

Newcastle’s wretched FA Cup record suffered a fresh blemish as 40-year-old Aaron Wilbraham gave minnows Rochdale a 1-1 draw at Spotland.

Magpies boss Steve Bruce had declared his determination not to lose to “bloody Rochdale” as he eyed a sustained Cup run for a club that hasn’t won the competition since 1955 and last reached the final in 1999.

 Newcastle stumble 

But Newcastle’s FA Cup form is so bad that they have not gone beyond the fourth round for 13 years.

Once again they endured embarrassment as Rochdale, who took Tottenham to a fifth round replay in 2018, recovered from Miguel Almiron’s opener to earn a replay at St James’ Park later in January thanks to a late leveller from old stager Wilbraham.

“Credit to Aaron Wilbraham, he’s been around longer then I have!” Bruce said. “We could’ve been out, so it’s a positive we are still in with a shout.”

Paraguayan midfielder Almiron opened the scoring with a fierce drive into the top corner from Christian Atsu’s 17th minute pass.

In need of a lift, Rochdale, sitting 18th in League One, opted for experience over the promise of youth at half-time when they sent on Wilbraham to replace 16-year-old Kwadwo Baah.

In the 674th game of his journeyman career, Wilbraham bagged only his second goal in the FA Cup with a close-range finish from Luke Matheson’s cross in the 79th minute.

Rochdale boss Brian Barry-Murphy revealed Wilbraham had overcome heartbreak to emerge as the hero.

“Aaron’s mum passed away recently so he’s been playing with that memory for the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“He’s an amazing guy and he had a huge impact on the second half.”

Norwich’s teenage striker Adam Idah scored a hat-trick — his first goals for the club — in their 4-2 win at Championship side Preston.

Will Smallbone marked his Southampton debut with a second half goal in their 2-0 victory over Huddersfield, while much-changed Burnley beat Peterborough 4-2.

FA Cup holders Manchester City host Port Vale later on Saturday, while troubled Manchester United travel to Wolves looking to avoid a repeat of last season’s quarter-final exit at Molineux.

AFP

Brighton Deny Chelsea Vital Win In New Year Fixture

Brighton’s Iranian midfielder Alireza Jahanbakhsh celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 1, 2020.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s spectacular overhead kick earned Brighton a share of the points against Chelsea and dampened Frank Lampard’s New Year celebrations on Wednesday as Aston Villa secured a vital win against Burnley.

Kicking off a packed day of top-flight action, Chelsea’s 1-1 draw on England’s south coast meant they missed out on the chance to pull seven points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United in the race to secure Champions League football for next season.

Cesar Azpilicueta gave the visitors an early lead, tapping in from close range following a corner in the 10th minute but Brighton were never out of it and pulled level in the 84th minute courtesy of Jahanbakhsh’s moment of magic.

Chelsea were quickly on top from the start of the match but Brighton came into the contest as it wore on, enjoying a spell of possession towards the end of the first half.

READ ALSO: Mane Set To Be Crowned King Of Africa As Troubles Rumble On

Leandro Trossard tested Kepa Arrizabalaga with a powerful strike but the Chelsea goalkeeper parried the shot with his right hand.

Lampard’s team were again dominant after the break. Christian Pulisic came close to doubling Chelsea’s lead at Brighton after 55 minutes while N’Golo Kante and Reece James were denied.

But Brighton kept battling and Kepa was forced to produce an outstanding save from Aaron Connolly in the 80th minute as the home side pushed for an equaliser.

Their persistence paid off minutes later. Lewis Dunk kept the ball alive from a corner-kick and Iranian midfielder Jahanbakhsh acrobatically found the bottom-left corner to give his team share of the points.

In the other early kick-off, Villa beat Burnley 2-1 despite seeing Jack Grealish’s opening goal controversially chalked off by VAR.

Wesley put Villa ahead in the 27th minute and captain Grealish doubled his side’s advantage four minutes before the break as his powerful effort found the top corner.

Chris Wood pulled a goal back for Burnley with 10 minutes to go.

Second-placed Leicester take on Newcastle later on Wednesday, with Tottenham and Wolves, also chasing Champions League football next season, also in action.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are hosting Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton in one of the early evening matches before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United kick off against Arsenal in the late match.

Runaway leaders Liverpool face Sheffield United on Thursday.

AFP

Relegation Battle Toughen As Brighton Beat Bournemouth, Climbs To 13 Place

Brighton’s English defender Dan Burn heads the ball during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Bournemouth at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on December 28, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Brighton eased fears of being dragged into a relegation battle as a well-deserved 2-0 win over Bournemouth lifted the Seagulls five points clear of the Premier League drop zone.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Aaron Mooy scored their first goals for the club as Graham Potter’s men secured just a second win in nine league games to move 13th.

Bournemouth meanwhile remain precariously placed just two points above the bottom three and could even end the day in the relegation zone if West Ham and Aston Villa win later on Saturday.

Jahanbakhsh has struggled to make an impact on the south coast since a big money move from AZ Alkmaar at the beginning of last season.

However the Iranian was moved to tears when he opened the scoring with his first Premier League goal less than three minutes into his first league start of the season.

Only a marginal offside call after a VAR review denied Dan Burn a second for Brighton early in the second half.

However, Mooy produced a moment of magic to secure the points 11 minutes from time as he controlled the ball on his chest, turned inside his marker and curled the ball into the far corner.

AFP

Tottenham Fight Back To Beat Brighton

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton and Hove Albion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on December 26, 2019. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Dele Alli got Tottenham back on track as the England midfielder capped a gritty escape act with the late winner in Thursday’s 2-1 victory against Brighton.

Jose Mourinho’s side were in danger of a second successive Premier League defeat when Adam Webster headed Brighton into a shock lead at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But Harry Kane equalised after the interval and Alli finished off a flowing Tottenham move in the closing stages to erase the bitter taste of last weekend’s acrimonious London derby loss to Chelsea.

Avenging their defeat at Brighton in October, Tottenham, unbeaten in Boxing Day fixtures since 2003, have won three of their last four league games as they try to climb into the top four.

That Chelsea setback was completely overshadowed by the alleged racist abuse of Blues defender Antonio Rudiger by Tottenham fans after his role in Son Heung-min’s red card.

Amid widespread calls for stronger action to stamp out racism in football, Tottenham fans appeared to behave better this time.

Initially, there were worrying signs for Mourinho on the field however as Steven Alzate escaped Moussa Sissoko, making space for a low strike that drifted just wide.

Since Mourinho’s first game in charge of Tottenham, no Premier League team had conceded more goals than the 14 his side allowed across all competitions heading into this round of matches.

Those defensive frailties were on display when Alzate lost his marker and forced Paulo Gazzaniga into a sprawling save, while Aaron Mooy went close from the edge of the area.

Kane has a knack of scoring on Boxing Day and the Tottenham striker thought he had netted again when he fired home from Winks’ pass, but the goal went to a VAR review and was ruled out by the narrowest of offside decisions.

Clinical Kane

Brighton made the most of that let-off to take the lead in the 37th minute.

Pascal Gross swung over a free-kick and Webster rose above Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez to plant a powerful header past Gazzaniga for his third goal of the season.

Mourinho must have been furious that Tottenham wilted against such a simple set-piece and his team’s record of one clean-sheet in his nine matches suggests a defender could be high on his January shopping list.

Underlining the urgency to address that problem area, Brighton’s Bernardo forced Gazzaniga to save from a corner moments later to the audible frustration of the Tottenham crowd on a dank, wet day in north London.

Mourinho, standing rain-soaked on the touchline, revealed before the game that his Christmas was ruined by the death of his family’s pet Yorkshire Terrier.

But Kane put a smile back on his manager’s face in the 53rd minute when he seized on a deflection off Lucas Moura after the Brazilian’s determined run.

Drilling a shot that Mat Ryan could only push back out, Kane gobbled up the rebound with a clinical finish for his eighth goals in five Premier League games on Boxing Day.

Kane’s 16th club goal this season was not immediately a catalyst for a Tottenham surge and Gazzaniga had to be alert to keep out Gross’s fierce free-kick.

But Mourinho made a significant switch when he sent on Christian Eriksen for Harry Winks, who moments before was lucky to escape a red card for a foul when he had already been booked.

Eriksen made an immediate impact in the 72nd minute when he floated a delicate pass to Serge Aurier who flicked the ball into the path of Alli, who guided a superb lofted finish over Ryan.

 

AFP

Van Dijk’s Brace Help 10-Man Liverpool Beat Brighton

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk (2L) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal with Liverpool’s English defender Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England on January 1, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

A first-half brace from Virgil van Dijk lifted Liverpool 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League in a 2-1 win over Brighton that was filled with drama after the sending off of home goalkeeper Alisson.

The Brazilian was dismissed on 76 minutes as he raced out of his area to handle an attempted chip by Brighton substitute Leandro Trossard.

Spanish replacement Adrian came on but his first act was to pick the ball out of the net as Lewis Dunk rolled the free-kick past the Liverpool wall and an unprepared goalkeeper.

The loss in midweek of influential midfielder Fabinho had taken the gloss off a successful period for Jurgen Klopp’s side, with an ankle injury ruling the Brazilian out for six weeks.

But the mood around Anfield before kick-off was certainly lifted when news came through from the north-east that their rivals Manchester City had unexpectedly dropped two points at Newcastle.

It did not take long for that mood to improve still further as Liverpool set about their task of attempting to move 11 points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side, the defending champions and the team still seen as their greatest challengers.

It took 18 minutes for Klopp’s men to take a deserved lead after Pascal Gross fouled Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain outside the Brighton area.

Trent Alexander-Arnold floated in the perfect free-kick and van Dijk rose powerfully above Adam Webster to head in his second goal of the season and first since the opening day of the season.

READ ALSO: West Ham Defeat Chelsea At Stamford Bridge

It did not take as long for van Dijk to wait for his third of the season — six minutes to be precise — as Brighton failed to learn from conceding the opener and allowed the same combination to double the lead.

This time it was from a left-wing corner as Alexander-Arnold delivered a perfect centre and the Dutch defender rose magnificently to beat Dunk and power a bullet header past a helpless Mat Ryan.

In between, van Dijk might have found the back of the net again, only this time his own, as he sliced a Davy Propper cross that flew inches wide of Liverpool’s far post.

But that was a rare moment of respite for Brighton, whose poor set-piece defending had left them facing a near-impossible task against a Liverpool side unbeaten in home league games since Crystal Palace beat them in April 2017, 951 days ago.

Ryan had already made three key saves to keep his side in contention, two from Roberto Firmino and another from Sadio Mane.

But, as the half progressed, there were moments of concern for a Liverpool side without a clean sheet in 11 games.

Jordan Henderson filled the absent Fabinho’s holding midfield position although he could not prevent the visitors from creating a couple of glorious openings late in the half as Propper was denied by Alisson and Dunk missed the target, unmarked, from 12 yards.

There were similar glimmers of hope for the visitors early in the second half, Dunk glancing a header wide and Aaron Connolly shooting straight at Alisson before Liverpool began to threaten on the counter-attack.

In the late drama that followed Alisson’s dismissal, Brighton pressed for an equaliser.

Adrian saved well from Aaron Mooy but almost fumbled a header from Gross into his own goal.

AFP

Silva Under Fire As Everton Crash

Everton’s French defender Lucas Digne (C) turns the ball into his own net to score an own goal and Brighton’s third goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Everton at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on October 26, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Everton manager Marco Silva is under pressure after a dramatic 3-2 defeat at Brighton in the English Premier League on Saturday.

At the Amex Stadium, Everton blew a 2-1 lead in the final 10 minutes to leave Silva fighting to save his job.

Silva’s side were in trouble after 15 minutes when Pascal Gross smashed a free-kick past Jordan Pickford for his first goal since April.

Everton drew level five minutes later when Richarlison met Lucas Digne’s corner with a header that deflected off Brighton defender Adam Webster into his own net.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin came off the bench to put Everton ahead from Mason Holgate’s pass in the 74th minute.

Brighton’s Neal Maupay scored an 80th minute penalty after Michael Keane was controversially ruled by VAR to have fouled Aaron Connolly.

And Everton defender Digne added to Silva’s woes when his stoppage-time own goal from Leandro Trossard’s cross left Everton two points above the relegation zone after their fifth defeat in their last six league games.

Watford remain bottom of the table after a 0-0 draw against Bournemouth.

The Hornets are still without a league win this season and haven’t won in nine home league games dating back to April.

Lys Mousset finished a memorable week on a high note with the equaliser in Sheffield United’s 1-1 draw at West Ham.

The hosts took the lead in the 44th minute through Robert Snodgrass’s cool finish from Andriy Yarmolenko’s pass.

But Mousset equalised for the Blades in the 69th minute, the French striker netting a fine strike with his first touch after coming off the bench.

After a difficult start following his close-season move from Bournemouth, Mousset now has three goals this term, with two in the last six days following his winner against Arsenal on Monday.

Saturday’s action couldn’t eclipse Leicester’s incredible 9-0 thrashing of Southampton at St Mary’s 24 hours earlier.

The result sent shockwaves through English football and Brendan Rodgers believes there is even better to come from Leicester after they equalled the biggest margin of victory in the Premier League era.

Leicester are third after hat-tricks from Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy secured the biggest away win in English top-flight history.

“I think we’ll get better, we will improve. Of course the result and performance is perfect,” Rodgers said.

“We have young players who are only going to gain even more confidence. We will get better. We certainly won’t just be content with what we’re doing.”

Tottenham Suffer Shock Defeat To Brighton

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (R) and teammates react after Brighton’s Aaron Connolly scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on October 5, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Tottenham’s calamitous week went from bad to worse as Mauricio Pochettino’s men were outclassed in a 3-0 defeat at Brighton on Saturday.

Nineteen-year-old Aaron Connolly scored twice for the Seagulls on his first Premier League start after Neal Maupay had headed Brighton into an early lead.

Four days on from a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Pochettino was looking for a reaction.

Instead, Spurs looked like a side devoid of confidence after getting off to the worst possible start when Hugo Lloris gifted Brighton the opener and injured himself in the process.

The France captain dropped a simple cross into the box and as he fell backwards and landed awkwardly, Maupay stooped to head into an empty net.

Lloris was stretchered off with what looked like an elbow injury and replaced by Paolo Gazzaniga.

Connolly took advantage of more generous Spurs defending and goalkeeping to double Brighton’s lead before half-time and curled in his second of the day in style 25 minutes from time.

Last season’s Champions League finalists have now won just three of their opening 11 games of the campaign and five of their last 19 dating back to when these sides last met in April.

And while Pochettino could justifiably claim Bayern’s ruthlessness in midweek meant the scoreline was not a true reflection of his side’s performance, there was no excuse for being thoroughly outplayed by a Brighton side that had not won in six league games.

The visitors’ were on the back foot from the off when injury was added to insult for Lloris.

The Spurs skipper was given oxygen and morphine before being taken to hospital and now seems certain to miss France’s upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Iceland and Turkey.

After a lengthy delay for Lloris to be stretchered off, Brighton pushed on rather than trying to protect their lead and were rewarded just after the half hour mark.

Connolly was twice the quickest to react as he turned Dan Burn’s cross goalwards and, after Gazzaniga spilled his first effort, the Irishman followed up for his first Premier League goal.

Tottenham have made a bad habit of letting leads slip in recent weeks against Arsenal, Olympiakos, Leicester and Bayern, but when forced to mount a fightback themselves were found wanting.

Pochettino sacrificed club record signing Tanguy Ndombele at half-time for Harry Winks and changed system to a 3-5-2.

However, rather than turning the tide, it was Brighton who got the third goal to kill the game off.

Connolly jinked inside onto his right foot and curled brilliantly into the far corner to round off an afternoon that he and the Seagulls will long remember.

Son Heung-min and Harry Kane then missed huge chances to pull a goal back that summed up Spurs’ dire week and leaves Pochettino with plenty to ponder over the upcoming two-week international break.

AFP

Aguero Stars As Man City Beat Brighton

Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (L) shoots past Brighton’s Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to score their second goal during the Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in north-west England on August 31, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Manchester City cruised to the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 win over Brighton on Saturday as Manchester United and Chelsea lost further ground in disappointing draws with Southampton and Sheffield United.

Leicester moved up to third as the Foxes unbeaten start to the season continued in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth thanks to two goals from Jamie Vardy, while victories for Crystal Palace and West Ham take them into a share of fourth.

City win comes at a cost

Liverpool can move back above City should they continue the only 100 percent start left in the Premier League later at Burnley, but City were never in danger of dropping points at the Etihad as Kevin de Bruyne tapped home David Silva’s cut-back after just two minutes.

Victory came at a cost for Pep Guardiola’s men as Aymeric Laporte was stretchered off with a knee injury that looks certain to rule him out of winning a first cap for France in upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.

City may come to regret not buying a replacement for departed captain Vincent Kompany at centre-back as holding midfielder Fernandinho had to deputise at the heart of the defence for the final 52 minutes.

However, Aguero soon made the game safe by blasting high into the net just before the break and produced another sublime finish to curl into the top corner for his second 10 minutes into the second-half.

Substitute Bernardo Silva then rounded off the scoring for the champions.

United slump continues

How United must wish they had some of their local rivals firepower as Southampton clung on for a 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s despite playing the last 17 minutes plus stoppage time a man down after Kevin Danso’s red card.

Daniel James had given the visitors the perfect start with his third goal in four appearances for United, but Jannik Vestergaard headed home an equaliser just before the hour mark.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have now failed to win in their last three games and won just one of their last 10 dating back to last season.

“We’ve been dominating, creating chances and just haven’t been clinical in front of goal to win the games,” said Solskjaer.

“It’s not a dip in form, (but) it’s a dip in results definitely.”

Blades blunt Chelsea

After scoring his first Chelsea goals away to Norwich last weekend, Tammy Abraham thought he had given the Blues all three points at home to newly-promoted Sheffield United by scoring twice more before the break.

However, the Blades hit back at the start of the second-half through Callum Robinson and Kurt Zouma’s own goal a minute from time earned the visitors an unlikely point in a 2-2 draw.

As United and Chelsea stumble, Leicester are the closest challengers to the top two so far as Jamie Vardy scored twice and teed up Youri Tielemans for his side’s other goal, but Brendan Rodgers’s men were also lucky Tielemans did not see red in another controversial VAR call.

Vardy opened the scoring in stunning fashion by lobbing Aaron Ramsdale from outside the box, but Bournemouth levelled thanks to a neat finish from Callum Wilson.

Tielemans tapped home Vardy’s low cross to restore Leicester’s lead, but the Belgian should have been sent-off for a high challenge on Wilson.

However, after a VAR review, the original decision to let Tielemans escape unpunished stood, and Vardy sealed the points 17 minutes from time.

Crystal Palace backed up their shock victory at Old Trafford last weekend with a 1-0 win over 10-man Aston Villa thanks to Jordan Ayew’s goal 17 minutes from time.

But Villa, who had Egyptian international Trezeguet sent-off early in the second-half, felt aggrieved as Henri Lansbury’s late goal was harshly ruled out for a dive before the ball reached the midfielder by Jack Grealish.

West Ham also have seven points from four games as goals either side of half-time from Sebastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko secured a comfortable 2-0 over Norwich.

Watford got their first point of the season, but remain bottom after a 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

AFP

Burnley, Brighton Enjoy Strong Starts As City Rout West Ham

Burnley’s English striker Ashley Barnes (C) celebrates scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Southampton at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on August 10, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP.

 

 

Manchester City opened the defence of their Premier League title in ominous fashion on Saturday as Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of West Ham, while Burnley and Brighton enjoyed impressive wins.

However, the introduction of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) for the first time in the Premier League proved Saturday’s big talking point with a series of reviews and delays at the London Stadium.

City had a goal ruled out for the tightest of offside calls against Sterling and Sergio Aguero was afforded the chance to retake a penalty by VAR after seeing his first attempt saved.

“Only what I wish is that VAR doesn’t make mistakes please,” said City boss Pep Guardiola, who felt that his side’s disallowed goal should have stood.

Liverpool’s 4-1 victory over Norwich on Friday sent the message to City that they are up for another titanic title battle after missing out by just one point last season.

But in a worrying sign for those trying to stop Guardiola’s men romping to a third straight league crown, City cruised to victory despite being far from their best before half-time.

The visitors led at the break thanks to Gabriel Jesus’ opener, but moved through the gears after the break as Sterling scored twice in 14 minutes.

Aguero then denied the England international the chance to seal his hat-trick from the spot, before the 24-year-old eventually grabbed his third goal of the game in stoppage time.

“Perfect start? It terms of the result yes, in terms of the performance no,” said the ever-demanding Guardiola. “In the first-half we were sloppy with our passes.”

– Potter’s perfect start –

Brighton’s new manager Graham Potter enjoyed a dream start to his time in charge as the Seagulls beat last season’s FA Cup finalists Watford 3-0 at Vicarage Road.

Abdoulaye Doucoure’s own goal gave the visitors a half-time lead before Florin Andone and Neil Maupay on his debut sealed a highly impressive three points for a Brighton side that narrowly escaped relegation last season.

Burnley were also 3-0 winners at Turf Moor as an Ashley Barnes double and Johann Gudmundsson’s strike condemned Southampton to a heavy defeat.

Crystal Palace’s wantaway star Wilfried Zaha put his grievances with the club’s hierarchy behind him to make an appearance as a second-half substitute against Everton, but neither side could break the deadlock in a 0-0 draw.

Zaha could have lined up for the visitors at Selhurst Park as Palace ignored a transfer request from the Ivorian to reject two bids from the Toffees after interest from Arsenal earlier in the transfer window cooled.

Everton were one of the biggest spenders in the window with seven new signings, but were forced to hang on for a point when Morgan Schneiderlin was sent-off 14 minutes from time for a second yellow card.

Sheffield United grabbed a late point away to Bournemouth on their return to the top flight after a 13-year absence.

Chris Mepham put the Cherries in front just after the hour mark on the south coast, but Billy Sharp’s strike two minutes from time salvaged a 1-1 draw for the Blades.

Last season’s Champions League finalists Tottenham begin their campaign later on Saturday at home to Aston Villa.

AFP

Brighton Sack Manager Chris Hughton

Brighton’s Irish manager Chris Hughton arrives for the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on May 12, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Brighton sacked manager Chris Hughton on Monday in what chairman Tony Bloom described as “one of the most difficult decisions” he had ever had to make.

Hughton leaves despite guiding Brighton to the FA Cup semi-finals and retaining their Premier League status for a second successive season.

However, a slump in their league form in the latter part of the season — which saw them sucked into a relegation battle — forced Bloom’s hand.

READ ALSO: ‘Work Starts Now’ For United After Dismal End To Season – Solskjaer

“Undoubtedly, this has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make as chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion, but ultimately one I have made due to how we struggled in the second half of the season,” said Bloom in a club statement.

AFP

Chelsea’s Three-Goal Thriller Against Brighton Eases Pressure On Sarri

Chelsea’s French striker Olivier Giroud (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge in London on April 3, 2019.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Chelsea eased the pressure on under-fire boss Maurizio Sarri as Callum Hudson-Odoi’s influential display and sublime strikes from Eden Hazard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek sealed a 3-0 win over Brighton on Wednesday.

Sarri couldn’t afford a negative result against struggling Brighton at Stamford Bridge after being subjected to fresh calls for his sacking during Sunday’s unconvincing win at Cardiff.

The angry Chelsea fans that showed their displeasure at the weekend were in part, motivated by Sarri’s refusal to select England winger Hudson-Odoi.

But Sarri finally unleashed Hudson-Odoi for his first Premier League start, while Loftus-Cheek also made the most of a rare appearance as the youngsters bolstered Chelsea’s bid for a top-four finish.

Hudson-Odoi set up Olivier Giroud’s first-half opener and Loftus-Cheek provided the assist for Hazard’s superb second.

READ ALSO: Man City Beat Cardiff To Leapfrog Liverpool In League Summit

England midfielder Loftus-Cheek capped a morale-boosting victory for the troubled Blues when the 23-year-old netted a majestic third to kill off FA Cup semi-finalists Brighton.

Chelsea is up to fifth place, behind fourth-placed Arsenal on goal difference as the race to qualify for the Champions League approaches a dramatic denouement.

Achieving that target is essential for Sarri as he battles to avoid the sack in a turbulent first season in charge.

Criticised for leaving Hudson-Odoi as an unused substitute against Cardiff, Sarri, at last, bowed to public pressure.

Hudson-Odoi was one of seven changes, with Hazard and N’Golo Kante returning after being rested in south Wales.

The 18-year-old’s fine performances for England recently shone the spotlight on Sarri’s decision to use him so infrequently.

Hudson-Odoi had played mostly in Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup ties, with his Premier League appearances coming from the bench.

Infuriated by his bit-part role, Hudson-Odoi has considered leaving, with Bayern Munich making their interest public before having a bid rebuffed by Chelsea in the January transfer window.

Sarri would be a brave man to drop him again, but whether Chelsea can persuade him to stay remains to be seen.

Show-Stopper

Hudson-Odoi’s name was loudly cheered when the team was read out before kick-off and he almost made the perfect start when his burst into the Brighton area ended with Shane Duffy deflecting his shot narrowly over.

Adding a much-needed cutting edge to Chelsea’s attack, Hudson-Odoi unfurled a pin-point cross that was headed over by Cesar Azpilicueta.

Hudson-Odoi was a constant threat and he played a key role as Chelsea made the breakthrough in the 38th minute.

Hazard’s precise pass found Hudson-Odoi on the right flank and he effortlessly eased past Anthony Knockaert with a nimble piece of footwork before whipping over a low cross that Giroud cleverly flicked in from close range.

It was Giroud’s first Premier League goal since November and his 11th in all competitions, rewarding Sarri’s decision to pick him instead of the misfiring Gonzalo Higuain.

Hudson-Odoi was a far more potent presence than either Willian or Pedro has been on the flanks for Chelsea this season.

Rising to meet Jorginho’s cross in the second half, Hudson-Odoi showed impressive strength to get in front of his marker but could only head straight at Mat Ryan.

While Hudson-Odoi’s potential is undeniable, Hazard remains Chelsea’s main man, a point he stylishly underlined in the 60th minute.

Teed up by Loftus-Cheek on the edge of the Brighton area, Hazard fooled Lewis Dunk with a drop of the shoulder that left the Brighton defender sliding past him, giving the Belgian time to bend a fine finish into the far corner.

Inspired by that moment of magic, Loftus-Cheek produced a show-stopper of his own three minutes later when he curled a superb 25-yard strike into the roof of Ryan’s net for his second goal in successive games.

AFP

 

Brighton Edge Into FA Cup Quarter-Final

Brighton’s English goalkeeper David Button (R) reacts after fumbling a save during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Derby County at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on February 16, 2019.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Brighton moved into the FA Cup quarter-finals for the second successive season as goals from Anthony Knockaert and Jurgen Locadia clinched a 2-1 win over Derby on Saturday.

Chris Hughton’s side have been sucked into relegation danger in the Premier League after six games without a win.

But the Seagulls made the most of a welcome break from the grind of the relegation battle as they saw off Frank Lampard’s Championship side at the Amex Stadium.

Derby had claimed the scalps of Manchester United and Southampton in domestic cup competitions this season.

But the fifth round tie was tipped in Brighton’s favour by a dominant first-half display.

READ ALSO: Zola Defends Chelsea’s Treatment Of Hudson-Odoi

Brighton opened the scoring after 33 minutes when Knockaert bent his first-time shot into the bottom corner of Kelle Roos’ net after connecting with Yves Bissouma’s cross.

Hughton’s team doubled their advantage when Locadia fired home from close-range in first-half stoppage time after Bissouma’s effort hit the post.

Former Chelsea and Arsenal star Ashley Cole set up a tense finish when the Derby defender headed in after 81 minutes.

It was the 38-year-old’s first goal in England since 2012 and his first ever in the FA Cup and the landmark strike came in his second game since joining Derby until the end of the season following his release by LA Galaxy.

But, despite Derby’s barrage of pressure, Cole’s goal wasn’t enough to spark a late escape for the Rams.

AFP