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Christian Benteke stunned Brighton with a stoppage-time winner at the Amex Stadium as Crystal Palace stole all three points from a game in which they barely had a kick.
Palace managed just two touches of the ball in Brighton’s penalty area all evening but made those touches count with devastating effect.
Jean-Philippe Mateta gave the visitors the lead on 28 minutes, diverting Jordan Ayew’s low cross past keeper Robert Sanchez with a clever backheel. It was Mateta’s first goal for the south London club since a January loan move from Mainz, but for long spells it looked as if it was going to be Palace’s only notable statistic.
Brighton began the second half in dominant fashion and on 55 minutes earned their reward, Pascal Gross’s deflected shot from outside of the area eventually falling to Dutch wing-back Joel Veltman, wide on the right. His low left-footed drive on the turn produced his first goal for the Seagulls and levelled the game.
From that point onwards, Brighton laid siege, racking up 25 shots and amassing 52 touches in the opposition penalty area. But Graham Potter’s men couldn’t convert the numbers into goals.
Substitute Adam Lallana wasted a couple of decent chances, firing one over the crossbar when unmarked , while Palace keeper Vicente Guaita raced around his six-yard box to keep out close-range efforts from Leandro Trossard.
As five minutes of stoppage time began, Brighton continued to push forward but that was ultimately their undoing. With just a few seconds remaining, Jordan Ayew picked up a loose ball in midfield and released Andros Townsend wide on the left. His deep cross found Benteke lurking at the far corner of the six-yard box and he unleashed a sweetly timed volley back across the face of goal, leaving Brighton keeper Sanchez flat-footed and unable to prevent the ball finding its target.
Graham Potter, Brighton manager
“They were in our box twice and scored two. That is the beauty of football but it doesn’t feel so beautiful at the moment, it feels painful. It was a one-sided game in terms of pressure, but they scored two. So that’s life.”
Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace manager
“The back four did unbelievably well and in the end we get the added bonus of scoring a goal in the very last minute with one of the few opportunities we created. I’m really pleased with the guts and determination the players showed. When you get your chance, you have to show what you’re about, you take it. All too often I find players would prefer to feel sorry for themselves than do what Christian Benteke did tonight.”
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