Newcastle take advantage of fluke goal at Brighton to go top
Mo Diame’s equaliser was followed up with last-minute winner from Ayoze Perez
Ayoze Perez is mobbed by his Newcastle team-mates after scoring the winning goal in the Championship match against Brighton at the Amex Stadium. Photograph: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Brighton 1 Newcastle 2
Newcastle came from behind to stun Brighton with two late goals to reclaim top spot in the Championship.
The Seagulls were leading through Glenn Murray’s controversial penalty until a fluked effort from Mo Diame nine minutes from time hauled Newcastle level.
Then with a minute to go, substitute Ayoze Perez secured a 2-1 victory and lifted the Magpies back above Brighton at the summit.
Both these teams are looking over their shoulders with third-placed Huddersfield building up a head of steam as they try to muscle in on the automatic promotion spots, and it is Newcastle who will be breathing easier after moving eight points clear of the Terriers.
Brighton, having regained top spot at the weekend after Newcastle stuttered at home to Bristol City, went at their visitors from the start with Bruno and Sam Baldock forcing early saves from Karl Darlow.
The breakthrough came in the 14th minute when Ciaran Clark and Murray tangled in the area as they awaited a corner.
If anything the pair were wrestling each other, but top-flight ref Bobby Madley ruled in Murray’s favour and the striker coolly dispatched his 17th league goal of the season from the spot.
Brighton had won all 18 of the previous matches in which they had scored first this season, but this was going to be a major test of that record – especially after left back Seb Pocognoli limped off to leave young substitute Fikayo Tomori to deal with the threat of Christian Atsu.
Newcastle began to find their feet and Matt Ritchie’s cross clipped the crossbar before Yoan Gouffran, a surprise choice up front in the absence of injured top scorer Dwight Gayle, robbed Lewis Dunk only to see his shot saved by David Stockdale.
The visitors should have equalised in first-half stoppage time when DeAndre Yedlin’s cross was met by Atsu eight yards out, but he placed his shot too close to Stockdale who made a fine point-blank save.
Moments into the second half Brighton went agonisingly close to doubling their lead, Dunk’s header beating Darlow but cleared from under the bar by Paul Dummett.
Newcastle were roared on by an impressive 2,600 fans, many who made a 700-mile round trip, and poured forward again but Stockdale denied Gouffran and kept out Daryl Murphy’s header.
However, with the clock running down Stockdale punched a corner to the feet of Atsu.
He mis-hit his shot completely on the edge of the area and it was hurtling yards wide. However the ball spun off Diame and looped into the air, eluding Stockdale and finding the top right corner, leaving the goalkeeper crestfallen and both Newcastle players looking at each other in disbelief.
And there was an even later sting in the tail when Atsu got clear down the left and crossed for Perez to sidefoot a dramatic winner and put Newcastle back in control of the promotion race.
Conor Hourihane scores first Villa goal to ease relegation concerns
Aston Villa 2 Bristol City 0
Jonathan Kodjia enjoyed an eventful evening against his former club as Aston Villa significantly eased their relegation concerns with a 2-0 win over Bristol City at Villa Park.
The 27-year-old joined Villa from City in an £11 million deal last summer and was jeered by the away fans after crashing a first-half penalty against the crossbar.
However, the Ivorian scored Villa’s opener and then set up Irish midfielder Conor Hourihane’s first goal for the club following his January switch from Barnsley as the hosts put nine points between themselves and a struggling City side now without a win in their last five.