Christian Benteke’s 95th-minute goal gave Crystal Palace the ultimate smash-and-grab victory to beat dominant Brighton 2-1 at the Amex Stadium on Monday night.
Palace’s two goals came from their only two shots on target – and touches in the Brighton box – in the whole game, with Benteke steering Andros Townsend’s cross back across goal and beyond Robert Sanchez deep into second-half injury time.
The visitors had spent most of the game defending, with Brighton registering 25 shots and dominating across the 90 minutes, and it looked like Albion would be forced to settle for just a point through Joel Veltman’s 55th-minute goal.
His close-range finish, his first for the club, had cancelled out Jean-Philippe Mateta’s own debut goal for Palace before half-time, back-heeling Jordan Ayew’s low ball past Sanchez for a wonderful opener.
But thanks to Benteke’s last-minute heroics, Palace move above Southampton into 13th, with 32 points, while Brighton remain in 16th, four above the relegation zone.
Eagles snatch points from wasteful Brighton
A slow start at the Amex in one of the Premier League’s more informal derbies was punctured 28 minutes in as Mateta, the latest Palace striker hoping to solve their attacking woes, deceived Sanchez with a beautiful turn to backheel Ayew’s low cross home with the first shot on target of the game.
It was the first goal Graham Potter’s side had conceded on home soil since January 2, and was worthy of breaking the duck. But it spelled out a familiar tale of Brighton dominance and wasteful finishing – which continued until the break, with Veltman and Alexis Mac Allister both missing opportunities to level.
A change of both shape and personnel at half-time, with the introduction of Danny Welbeck, got the Seagulls firing again after the break and within two minutes of his introduction, he diverted Trossard’s driven ball wide from close-range.
Even with another attacking player on the pitch, it was a Brighton defender who pulled them level nine minutes into the second period, as Veltman found himself well-placed to take a loose ball from a tackle on Welbeck to beat Vicente Guaita at his near post with a powerful effort.
With an hour gone, the hosts should have completed the turnaround, but Trossard’s poor connection with Dan Burn’s cross let Palace off the hook yet again.
Substitute Adam Lallana was then denied by a last-ditch Gary Cahill block as the chances continued to rack up, before the ex-Liverpool man wasted another fine opportunity by firing over when unmarked.
If anyone was going to score, it looked like Brighton. But just as their inability to finish games off has proven the curse of their season, so it proved deep into injury time.
With 52 seconds left of the five minutes added on, Townsend’s run down the left flank and back-post cross found Benteke, who caught the ball perfectly to fire back across Sanchez and into the far corner for a winner neither side could barely believe come the full-time whistle.
Brighton face a six-pointer on Saturday with a trip to 19th-placed West Brom, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 2.45pm; Kick-off at 3pm.
Crystal Palace host resurgent Fulham in the Sunday lunch-time game in a London derby at Selhurst Park; Kick-off at 12pm.