Brighton moved within touching distance of Premier League safety for another season as Graham Potter’s hosts opened a 10-point gap to the relegation places with victory over Leeds United.
With four games to play, the Seagulls – looking to secure a fifth successive season in the top flight – climbed three places to 14th and have a significant margin to 18th-placed Fulham, who face Chelsea later (17:30 BST).
The hosts were rewarded for a positive start at Amex Stadium when Pascal Gross expertly found the bottom corner with a 14th-minute penalty, awarded following Ezgjan Alioski’s clumsy foul on Danny Welbeck.
Potter’s side squandered several chances to extend their advantage, but Welbeck eventually sealed an important victory 11 minutes from time with a composed finish after a sharp turn.
Leeds, missing midfield rock Kalvin Phillips, initially responded to falling behind, but Jack Harrison’s whipped shot was caught comfortably by Robert Sanchez and Dan Burn bravely blocked a thunderous Tyler Roberts strike from the visitors’ best first-half chances.
Brighton’s forward trio of Welbeck, Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay were all guilty of wasting opportunities – but Stuart Dallas’ dipping first-time attempt with 15 minutes remaining was as close as Marcelo Bielsa’s below-par side came to an equaliser.
Brighton all but safe
Having slumped to defeat at bottom side Sheffield United last weekend, Brighton responded with an energetic and determined display that should finally end any nagging threat of relegation for another term.
This victory, against an in-form Leeds aiming to consolidate a top-half finish, ended a tough four-match winless run for Potter’s side, which had also seen them fail to score in their past three despite attempting 51 shots in total.
When it arrived, Gross’ spot-kick ended a six-hour wait for a goal, and though Illan Meslier went the right way the German’s low strike could not have been better placed.
The profligacy that has plagued Brighton’s campaign threatened to cost them once more as Trossard blazed over from Welbeck’s cut-back after he robbed Diego Llorente of possession, and Welbeck dragged a low shot wide of the far post shortly before half-time.
Undeterred, Trossard, Welbeck and Maupay looked fluid and threatening throughout and Welbeck ensured his personal good work was rewarded as a brilliant pivot beat the Leeds defence and presented the Englishman with ample time to pick his spot.
Potter’s faith in the quality of his squad has not wavered despite a lingering threat of relegation – one far from helped by a dismal home record showing just three wins – and now that safety looks all but confirmed they can surely afford to play with freedom as they aim to secure the five points required to better last season’s tally.
More to follow.
How to play
Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Rating range key = Give it up = Pure perfection
Brighton & Hove Albion
- 13GroßBooked at 76mins
- 8BissoumaSubstituted forMac Allisterat 90+2′minutes
- 11TrossardSubstituted forJahanbakhshat 81′minutes
- 18WelbeckSubstituted forModerat 90′minutes
- 10Mac Allister
- 2AylingBooked at 88mins
- 14LlorenteSubstituted forHernándezat 79′minutes
- 10AlioskiSubstituted forPoveda-Ocampoat 45′minutes
- 9BamfordSubstituted forRodrigoat 59′minutes
Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 2, Leeds United 0.
Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 2, Leeds United 0.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Robin Koch.
Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Pascal Groß.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Alexis Mac Allister replaces Yves Bissouma.
Stuart Dallas (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Joël Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Jakub Moder replaces Danny Welbeck.
Attempt missed. Adam Webster (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Pascal Groß with a cross following a set piece situation.
Luke Ayling (Leeds United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Luke Ayling (Leeds United).
Adam Webster (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Hand ball by Yves Bissouma (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Attempt missed. Mateusz Klich (Leeds United) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ian Poveda-Ocampo.
Jack Harrison (Leeds United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Joël Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Alireza Jahanbakhsh replaces Leandro Trossard.
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 2, Leeds United 0. Danny Welbeck (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner.
Substitution, Leeds United. Pablo Hernández replaces Diego Llorente.
Attempt missed. Yves Bissouma (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Leandro Trossard.