LONDON (Agencies): Anthony Knockaert’s superb strike fired Brighton to a vital 2-1 win over arch rivals Crystal Palace as the Seagulls climbed away from the Premier League relegation zone on Saturday.
Chris Hughton’s side took the lead through Glenn Murray’s early goal before Luka Milivojevic equalised with a second half penalty. Knockaert sparked wild celebrations from the Brighton fans who made the trip to south London when he blasted the winner in the closing stages.
Having beaten Palace in December, Brighton secured their first win at Selhurst Park since 2005, giving them a first league double over the Eagles since the 1983-84 season. Just as importantly, Brighton are now level on points with Palace and well clear of the relegation zone heading into next weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final at Millwall.
Palace and Brighton might be separated by 40 miles, but the rivalry between the clubs has been fierce since the 1970s and the fate of their latest grudge match hinged on a pre-match twist of fate. Hughton initially left out Murray in favour of Florin Andone, but there was a late change to Brighton’s starting line-up after Andone was injured in the warm-up.
He was replaced by Murray, who made the most of his unexpected opportunity to open the scoring in the 19th minute. Palace defender James Tomkins failed to deal with Lewis Dunk’s long punt forward and Murray pounced on the loose ball, driving a fine finish into the bottom corner from the right side of the area.
It was the striker’s 100th league goal for Brighton, maintaining his impressive streak against Palace, with goals in each of his last four appearances against his former club. Dunk made an excellent block to stop Wilfried Zaha’s goal-bound shot as Palace pushed for an equaliser.
Moments later, Brighton keeper Mat Ryan clawed away a header from Tomkins before Palace winger Jeffrey Schlupp fired just wide. Palace’s pressure was rewarded in the 50th minute when Andros Townsend was tripped just inside the Brighton area by Davy Propper’s needless challenge.
Milivojevic stepped up to send Ryan the wrong way with a clinical spot-kick, making it 17 successful penalties for the Serbian midfielder since his Palace debut in 2017. But, despite being penned back for long periods, it was Brighton who snatched the winner with just their third shot on target in the 74th minute.
Cutting in from the right flank, Knockaert advanced unchecked by Patrick van Aanholt to the edge of the area before curling a sublime strike into the top corner.