Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson hailed his side’s “remarkable victory” that broke their “hoodoo” against rivals Brighton.
Jordan Ayew’s second-half goal gave Palace a first win over the Seagulls in three attempts and ended a seven-year wait for a win at Amex Stadium.
“I’m very proud,” Hodgson said. “Both teams were totally aware of how important this game is.
“It was a hard-fought derby. Both teams will feel they did everything they could possibly do. We knew we’d have to dig in and fight plenty of battles out there.
“It’s a remarkable victory because this is a fixture where we haven’t done so well in recent years, and it’s nice to break that hoodoo.
“It’s good to get back-to-back wins and we’ve got two important games coming up [at home to Watford then away at Bournemouth]. If they go well, we can kiss relegation goodbye.”
The result leaves Palace nestled safely in mid-table, while the Seagulls, who have not won since their victory over Bournemouth on 28 December, sit four points above the bottom three.
However, the outcome in many ways mirrored Brighton’s season so far.
The hosts dominated possession and carved out several opportunities to score but were eventually punished by their more incisive opponents.
Christian Benteke, a threat throughout for Hodgson’s side, created Ayew’s winning goal against the run of play.
The Belgian forward turned away from a home defender to find his strike partner with a clever reverse pass, Ayew converting with a low shot under Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
Hodgson’s landmark day goes to script
Despite Brighton enjoying greater possession and more efforts on goal than Palace, this was another performance that went to script for Hodgson who was celebrating his 100th Premier League match in charge of the Eagles.
The former England boss stressed before kick-off that he was not bothered about controlling the game as long as his team could deliver in the final third.
And he would have been delighted by their start which saw them keep the Seagulls at arm’s length while creating clear-cut chances of their own.
Benteke spurned the first, awkwardly miscuing his effort wide of goal after James McArthur’s lofted pass sent him clear.
Cheikhou Kouyate then got the ball caught under his studs after latching on to a Benteke header which allowed Ryan to smother the ball at his feet.
While the hosts poured forward after the break and had 15 shots on goal to Palace’s six, goalkeeper Vicente Guaita was rarely troubled by some errant finishing.
And Hodgson’s landmark day could have ended even more satisfactorily – with Wilfried Zaha remarkably prodding a right-foot effort against the left post late on with the Brighton goal completely unguarded.
Brighton’s challenging run
While Brighton racked up 24 shots against Crystal Palace, their best-ever total in a Premier League game, that only served to underline another performance that brought a distinct lack of cutting edge.
For all the flowing football that head coach Graham Potter has introduced, he has now overseen just one win from the past 14 games in all competitions.
A wider concern for Potter and his players is that they can hardly take solace from the home games in front of them as the season draws to its conclusion.
Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City are Brighton’s next four home opponents, with trips to Wolves and Leicester also on the horizon.
Potter also appeared to make some curious decisions with Glenn Murray, who carried an aerial threat when he came on as a substitute, left out of the starting XI.
Solly March, the man Murray replaced, had arguably been one of Brighton’s most effective players, attempting six shots – more than any other player before his withdrawal.
What cannot be laid at Potter’s door was some of the dreadful finishing that proved their downfall. March missed Brighton’s best first-half opportunity, with the winger firing a close-range effort into the side netting after a sweeping move down the left.
Brighton’s miserable day was summed up by Lewis Dunk’s goalbound header from a Mooy corner, which hit Seagulls forward Neal Maupay in the six-yard box before bouncing to safety.
“It’s a sore one for us. That’s football, you have to put the ball in the net,” Potter said. “We created stuff, we tried, had shots, had chances, they didn’t have too much.
“I feel for the boys. We have to dust ourselves down. There’s enough quality there. We showed enough to say that we can move forward, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Man of the match – Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace)
Ayew equals best goal return – the stats
- Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew’s goals this season have won his side 12 points. Only Andy Johnson in 2004-05 (15) won more in a single Premier League season for the Eagles.
- Ayew has equalled his best goal return in a Premier League season – also netting seven goals in 2015-16 with Aston Villa and in 2017-18 with Swansea.
- Brighton remain the only side without a Premier League win in 2020 (D5 L3), with the Seagulls last enjoying a top-flight victory against Bournemouth on 28 December.
- Crystal Palace have won back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since December.
- Brighton mustered 24 shots against Crystal Palace, their best ever tally in a Premier League game.
- Roy Hodgson oversaw his 100th Premier League game in charge of Crystal Palace (W34 D27 L39), the first club he’s reached the milestone with in the competition.
- Sixteen of Crystal Palace’s 28 Premier League games this season have been goalless at half-time, at least five more than any other side.
- Crystal Palace attacker Christian Benteke has registered two goal involvements in his past three Premier League appearances (one goal, one assist), as many as he managed in his previous 34 in the competition.
Brighton face Wolves at Molineux in their next Premier League game on Saturday, 7 March (15:00 GMT), while Palace host Watford at the same time.