Wednesday 26 April 2017

Joyous scenes at the Amex as Brighton win promotion to the Premier League

Brighton chairman Tony Bloom and Anthony Knockhaert (R) salute the fans at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Wigan Athletic at Amex Stadium
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom and Anthony Knockhaert (R) salute the fans at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Wigan Athletic at Amex Stadium

Brighton have sealed a return to the top flight for the first time in 34 years.

Goals in each half from leading scorer Glenn Murray and winger Solly March gave the top-of-the-table Seagulls their fifth successive win - 2-1 against Wigan - and put them on the brink of the Premier League on Monday afternoon.

Nick Powell pulled a late goal back for the Latics, who remained in the drop zone, but it could not dampen the home side's celebrations.

And then, in the late Sky Bet Championship kick-off, Huddersfield's failure to win at Derby - Jacob Butterfield's late equaliser earned the Rams a point - made it mathematically impossible for Chris Hughton's side to be shifted from the top two.

Hughton made two changes, with ex-Wigan defender Gaetan Bong replacing Seb Pocognoli at left-back and Steve Sidwell giving way to Beram Kayal.

Championship player of year Anthony Knockaert tried his luck early on for the Seagulls, his low shot from 25 yards saved by Danish goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard.

Central defender Lewis Dunk went close for Brighton by putting a deflected shot wide after Haugaard dropped a Knockaert free-kick.

Dunk threatened again after 27 minutes when he rose to head a dangerous free-kick from Knockaert over the bar at the far post.

Haugaard was well positioned to hold a header from Uwe Huenemeier after Knockaert supplied a dangerous corner.

Brighton had struggled to move the ball quickly, but the breakthrough came after 37 minutes when leading marksman Murray produced a deadly finish to notch his 22nd goal of the season.

A long ball from Dunk was knocked back by Tomer Hemed into the path of Murray, who gave Haugaard no chance from 12 yards.

Former Bournemouth striker Murray had the ball in the net again five minutes later, but his far post header was ruled out because Knockaert's corner had gone out of play.

Brighton should have doubled their advantage shortly after the break when a cross from March found Hemed and his shot was cleared off the line by defender Dan Burn.

Albion's dominance also saw Knockaert put a free-kick wide before Murray fired into the side-netting in front of the Wigan fans.

The pressure told on 65 minutes when March made it 2-0 with a close-range shot after Knockaert set up him up.

Murray later saw a deflected shot go over after a storming run by substitute Jamie Murphy.

Wigan denied Brighton a clean sheet five minutes from time when Powell headed in a cross from Jamie Hanson, but the hard work for the hosts was already done.

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