Brighton came out on top in a crucial match at the bottom of the Premier League, securing a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth to leave the Cherries precariously close to the relegation zone.
The Seagulls took the lead within the opening three minutes following a slick counter attacking move. Neal Maupay teed up Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who fired the ball into the bottom corner for his first goal in Brighton colours.
Dan Burn thought he had doubled Brighton’s advantage in the second half, swivelling on the half volley to bury the ball into the bottom corner, but VAR deemed the goal offside.
Yves Bissouma came close to wrapping up the three points, charging forward and letting fly from the edge of the area, but his effort clattered against the post. The victory was eventually sealed by Aaron Mooy, who controlled the ball exquisitely with the outside of his right foot, before bending the ball past the outstretched arm of Aaron Ramsdale.
Key Talking Point
Brighton went into the game with just one win in their last eight, and had gone 12 years and 10 matches since their last league win over Bournemouth. This bad run of form was put to bed on Saturday, with Brighton’s overload in midfield proving crucial.
The midfield three of Mooy, Bissouma and Davy Propper overwhelmed Dan Gosling and Philip Billing in the centre of the park, winning back possession before rapidly getting the ball forward to their front three.
Brighton looked fluid and were dangerous on the counter attack, and the win could have been more comfortable had it not been for the width of a post and the tightest of VAR decisions.
Starting XI: Ryan (6); Montoya (7), Dunk (7), Duffy (7), Burn (7); Mooy (9*), Bissouma (8), Propper (7); Jahanbakhsh (7), Maupay (7), Trossard (8).
Subs: Stephens (5), Alzate (5), Murray (5).
STAR MAN: Aaron Mooy
The Brighton man was instrumental in the middle of the park for the hosts. Mooy drifted between the Bournemouth midfield and defence, with the visitors struggling to pick him up as he found little pockets of space in the final third.
Mooy was efficient and positive in possession; his probing pass sent Maupay away inside three minutes to set up Brighton’s opening goal. The Seagulls always looked dangerous whenever the Australian midfielder surged forward. He rounded off a superb display with a goal of real quality, demonstrating stunning control and skill, and with a finish to match.
It was a dynamic, energetic and ultimately match winning performance from Mooy.
In the first half vs. Bournemouth, Aaron Mooy ranked first in:
• final third passes (18)
• chances created (4)
• completed crosses (2)
Won 100% of his tackles too. pic.twitter.com/wdbpDg6Q0M
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 28, 2019
Almost staggering how much space Aaron Mooy is getting. He’s running things here.
— Peter Rutzler (@peterrutzler) December 28, 2019
Aaron Mooy is absolutely phenomenal. #BHAFC need to do whatever it takes to nail him down permanently in January
— Ryan Elliott (@RyanEJourno) December 28, 2019
Key Talking Point
After a slow opening 25 minutes, Bournemouth grew into the game and enjoyed a spell of pressure in Brighton’s half towards the end of the first period. However, it was to no avail.
Bournemouth have scored 20 goals this season, with 10 of those coming from set pieces. The absence of cutting edge in the final third was evident during Saturday’s defeat. Although there was plenty of intricate, patient build up play from the Cherries, the final pass, cross or finish was often lacking.
Josh King had an effort from close range well saved by Mat Ryan, while Harry Wilson was stifled in the penalty area by a crucial Burn challenge. But Eddie Howe’s side failed to create a clear cut opportunity, and offered very little in the second half. The Cherries could be in real trouble if they do not rediscover some creativity soon.
Starting XI: Ramsdale (6); Stacey (5), S Cook (6), Mepham (5), Rico (6); Stanislas (5), Billing (5), Gosling (5), Wilson (5); Solanke (5), King (6*).
Subs: Fraser (5), Wilson (5), L Cook (5).
STAR MAN: Josh King
Very much slim pickings for Bournemouth. Josh King was arguably the Cherries most dangerous player when he got in behind, and his pace caused the Seagulls some problems in the first half. Bournemouth’s already blunt attack looked even less inspired when he was forced off with injury with 20 minutes remaining.
Brighton host Chelsea in four days time, the side they lost 2-0 earlier in the season.
Bournemouth meanwhile face another crucial fixture with fellow strugglers West Ham on New Years Day.