December 4, 2022

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Brighton 2-0 Leeds: Pascal Gross and Danny Welbeck all but ensure Seagulls’ Premier League status

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Playing a team off the park, missing plenty of chances and failing to see out results – that has been the theme of the season for Graham Potter’s Brighton.

But the Seagulls broke that trend yesterday to all but guarantee survival with a 2-0 win, making Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds look damningly average in the process.

Pascal Gross put Albion ahead with an early penalty and Danny Welbeck added a second late on after a beautiful Cruyff turn to confirm the three points that took Potter’s men 10 points clear of 18th-placed Fulham.

Brighton produced a brilliant performance to all but ensure their Premier League survival

Brighton produced a brilliant performance to all but ensure their Premier League survival

Brighton produced a brilliant performance to all but ensure their Premier League survival

Pascal Gross scored from the penalty spot after Danny Welbeck was fouled in the first-half

Pascal Gross scored from the penalty spot after Danny Welbeck was fouled in the first-half

Pascal Gross scored from the penalty spot after Danny Welbeck was fouled in the first-half

Welbeck then scored a magnificent goal late on to move Brighton ten points clear of 18th

Welbeck then scored a magnificent goal late on to move Brighton ten points clear of 18th

Welbeck then scored a magnificent goal late on to move Brighton ten points clear of 18th 

MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS 

BRIGHTON (4-2-3-1): Sanchez 6; White 7, Webster 7, Dunk 7; Veltman 6.5, Gross 7.5, Bissouma 7 (Mac Allister 90+2), Burn 6.5; Trossard 8 (Jahanbakhsh 81); Welbeck 8.5 (Moder 90), Maupay 6.5.

Subs not used: Steele, Connolly, Alzate, Izquierdo, Propper, Zeqiri.

Booked: Trossard.

Scorers: Gross (pen) 14, Welbeck 79.

Manager: Graham Potter 8.

LEEDS UNITED (4-1-4-1): Meslier 7; Ayling 6, Llorente 5 (Hernandez 79), Struijk 6, Alioski 5 (Poveda 46, 6); Koch 6.5; Dallas 6, Klich 6, Roberts 6, Harrison 5; Bamford 5 (Rodrigo 59, 6).

Subs not used: Casilla, Berardi, Drameh, Shackleton, Jenkins, Huggins.

Booked: Ayling.

Manager: Marcelo Bielsa 5.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh 7.

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They played slick, one-touch passing throughout and pulled Leeds apart at will in arguably Brighton’s most complete performance of the season.

The two-goal scoreline flattered Bielsa, as Brighton really should have scored more but for wasteful finishing. But Potter will care little – his side’s position in the Premier League for a fifth successive season is all but guaranteed.

Brighton dominated the first half. Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard both squandered early chances before Gross put Albion ahead from the spot on 12 minutes.

Welbeck found himself trying to manoeuvre some space in a cramped penalty area and Ezgjan Alioski foolishly went to ground, catching the Englishman with his knee. There were no complaints when Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot.

Gross stepped up knowing Brighton have missed three penalties this season, the joint-most in the league, but he powered his spot-kick hard and low into the left-hand corner, leaving Illan Meslier no chance.

The early goal did little to wake up the away side, though. Brighton continued to press and should have gone into half time with a two-goal lead at the very least.

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Welbeck looked as sharp as he has done since signing for the Seagulls last summer and continued to hustle and harry Leeds defenders.

He caught Diego Llorente in possession on 40 minutes and squared to Trossard for what seemed like an easy finish but the Belgian fired high and wide from close-range.

Ezgjan Alioski gave away the penalty for this foul on Welbeck and was taken off at half-time

Ezgjan Alioski gave away the penalty for this foul on Welbeck and was taken off at half-time

Ezgjan Alioski gave away the penalty for this foul on Welbeck and was taken off at half-time

Gross stepped up and converted to the right hand side of Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier

Gross stepped up and converted to the right hand side of Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier

Gross stepped up and converted to the right hand side of Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier

Maybe if it was the other way around, with natural finisher Welbeck having the shot, it would have been different. But that happened minutes later, with Trossard feeding Welbeck in the box only for the former Manchester United man to pull his effort wide.

Leeds’ only chance of the half came when Albion defender Dan Burn headed an attempted clearance at his own man Joel Veltman, nearly causing an embarrassing own goal that would have been perfect for a football blunders DVD – if they still exist.

The second period started in a similar pattern, Veltman taking his turn in missing a gilt-edged chance. The wing backs combined as Burn squared it to the Dutchman, who shanked his shot over.

Too many times this season Brighton have dominated matches and not got what they deserve. For their fans watching at home up and down the country, it must feel like a predictable TV drama by now.

Leeds had a lot of possession but their crosses into the box were unable to trouble Brighton

Leeds had a lot of possession but their crosses into the box were unable to trouble Brighton

Leeds had a lot of possession but their crosses into the box were unable to trouble Brighton

Jack Harrison has an ambitious effort at goal with a volley which goes over the crossbar

Jack Harrison has an ambitious effort at goal with a volley which goes over the crossbar

Jack Harrison has an ambitious effort at goal with a volley which goes over the crossbar

More times than not, those perched in front of their screens at home have not liked the ending, either. As this game crept on and Brighton continued to miss chances, it felt like it was all set up for a suckerpunch from Leeds on the counter-attack.

But Marcelo Bielsa’s men created next to nothing. Their only threat came from set-pieces, but most of them were gobbled up by the commanding Robert Sanchez.

If the Spanish goalkeeper didn’t come to claim them, his bellowing cries of ‘away!’ reverberated around the Amex Stadium and were met with defiant clearing headers from Lewis Dunk or Adam Webster.

Ben White headed over from close range for Brighton before Maupay missed another sitter. Trossard put it on a plate for the French forward, who was unmarked on the penalty spot with just Meslier to beat, but his shot was weak and rolled wide.

Welbeck scored when he did a Cryuff turn to take him past Pascal Struijk and slotted away

Welbeck scored when he did a Cryuff turn to take him past Pascal Struijk and slotted away

Welbeck scored when he did a Cryuff turn to take him past Pascal Struijk and slotted away

Potter continues to put his faith in Maupay despite just 18 goals in 70 Premier League appearances. He does a lot more than just scoring goals – with shrewd link-up play and smart pressing – but one wonders where Brighton would be with a prolific goalscorer.

But in asking questions of Maupay’s finishing ability, it was easy to forget that Brighton have a former Manchester United and England forward alongside him in Welbeck.

He confirmed the win on 79 minutes with a beautiful goal. Pascal Struijk tried to clear a bouncing ball but Welbeck picked the ball out of the sky with a Cruyff-turn to allude two defenders, before he slotted past Meslier with his left foot.

When Brighton return to social media after the boycott on Monday evening, they will be sure to milk videos of that special turn from Welbeck.

The goal capped off Welbeck’s finest performance in many years. Maybe Brighton have got that prolific goalscorer after all.

Marcelo Bielsa was visibly frustrated with his side's performance throughout the 90 minutes

Marcelo Bielsa was visibly frustrated with his side's performance throughout the 90 minutes

Marcelo Bielsa was visibly frustrated with his side’s performance throughout the 90 minutes

Graham Potter on the other hand will be delighted as his side are now ten points clear of 18th

Graham Potter on the other hand will be delighted as his side are now ten points clear of 18th

Graham Potter on the other hand will be delighted as his side are now ten points clear of 18th

Sportsmail’s Kieran Lynch for live EPL coverage of Brighton vs Leeds, including scoreline, lineups and build-up.  

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