Tomer Hemed again netted in a Premier League success for Brighton and Hove Albion as they ended Newcastle United’s three-game winning run with a 1-0 triumph.
Rafael Benitez’s men pipped Brighton to the Championship title on the final day of last season, but they came out second best on Sunday as Hemed – a scorer against West Brom in the Seagulls’ previous home game – hit the only goal.
Chris Hughton – facing his former club – sent out a side playing with pace and verve in the first half, but he had to wait until after the interval for his forward to make an impact, feeding on the scraps of a well-worked free-kick.
Joselu had earlier missed a golden opportunity for Newcastle, but they could muster no response to the Brighton goal, despite Jonjo Shelvey’s corner striking the woodwork.
After consecutive wins against West Ham, Swansea City and Stoke City, the Magpies’ winning run ended at the hands of a team they beat twice last term.
Jamaal Lascelles has been Newcastle’s danger man from set-pieces this season, but it was Mikel Merino’s volley from an early Matt Ritchie corner that forced Mat Ryan into a first fine save.
Brighton responded well, almost profiting from a chaotic goalmouth scramble before seeing Hemed muster two harmless attempts.
And the visitors were then fortunate to escape as Pascal Gross’ close-range shot deflected away off Anthony Knockaert after the ball had squirmed across the face of goal from the left.
Solly March’s teasing centre almost caught Rob Elliot out, but Joselu should have netted the opener against the run of play at the other end, instead stabbing agonisingly wide as the ball fell kindly in the area.
A fine move down the Newcastle left involving Christian Atsu and Chancel Mbemba created another opening and Ayoze Perez fired over the crossbar.
The Brighton breakthrough arrived six minutes after half-time, with Benitez’s side undone from a set-piece as Dale Stephens nodded the ball down for Hemed to hook a finish past Elliot.
Only a brilliant Elliot block with his right leg prevented March from quickly doubling that lead from a tight angle as Newcastle struggled to regain their foothold in the game.
A Merino strike deflected narrowly past the right-hand post and substitute Shelvey hit the opposite upright with an optimistic attempt direct from a corner.
Shelvey went close with a second effort from a free-kick and Atsu bundled a shot straight at Ryan, but there was to be no reprieve for Newcastle as Brighton held on.
Key Opta stats:
– Brighton have won back to back home league games in the top-flight for the first time since November 1982.
– Tomer Hemed has been involved in three goals in his last two home Premier League games (two goals, one assist).
– Hemed’s last six league goals for the Seagulls have all been scored at the Amex.
– Hemed has had a hand in 20 goals in his last 23 league starts at the Amex for Brighton (15 goals, five assists).
– Newcastle have lost 22 of their last 24 away Premier League games in which they’ve conceded the first goal (W1 D1).
– Rafael Benitez has lost each of his last four Premier League matches against newly promoted sides, having lost only two of the first 40.
– Newcastle have now lost their last three away Premier League games in which they’ve attempted at least 17 shots – also Sunderland in October 2015 (21, lost 3-0) and QPR in May 2015 (22, lost 2-1).