Brighton 1-0 Watford: Pascal Gross earns hosts a first win in eight games
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 23/12/17 6:45pm
Brighton's first goal from open play in over 10 hours of Premier League football was enough to earn a 1-0 victory against Watford at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
Pascal Gross broke the deadlock in the 64th minute with a long-range effort, but Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes will not be happy as he let the ball slip underneath him.
Watford offered very little as an attacking threat, with Richarlison heading their best opportunity for an equaliser wide from a good position, as the home side held on for victory with ease.
A first win in eight games for Brighton moves them up to 12th, five points clear of the relegation zone, while Watford stay in 10th, despite a fourth successive defeat.
Brighton: Ryan (6), Bruno (6), Dunk (6), Goldson (6), Suttner (6), Propper (6), Stephens (6), Knockaert (6), Gross (7), March (7), Hemed (5).
Subs: Kayal (6), Murray (6), Izquierdo (6).
Watford: Gomes (5), Pereyra (4), Kabasele (6), Prodl (6), Janmaat (6), Cleverley (6), Watson (4), Richarlison (5), Holebas (5), Carrillo (5), Gray (3).
Subs: Subs: Capoue (6), Okaka (6).
Man of the match: Pascal Gross
The first half was a tepid affair, with two teams in poor form unable to really find their rhythm at the Amex.
The only opening of note came in the 32nd minute, but Connor Goldson's tame header from a good position was easily saved by Gomes.
After the break, the game did open up somewhat. Gross drilled for goal from distance early in the half, but it fizzed just wide.
Troy Deeney began his four-match ban, while Abdoulaye Doucoure was also suspended. Four changes in all for Watford with Ben Watson, Tom Cleverley, Roberto Pereyra and Andre Gray coming in.
Three changes for Brighton, with Connor Goldson, Markus Sutter and Tomer Hemed all handed a starting berth. Glenn Murray took his place on the bench.
Then, Gross went one better to relieve some of the tension around the stadium as Watford could not cope with the swift counter from the hosts.
Tomer Hemed fed Gross, who shifted the ball onto his right foot, fired back across where he had come from, which seemed to wrong-foot Gomes, who could not get down quick enough to keep the ball out.
Lewis Dunk then should have doubled Brighton's advantage, but he headed wide from just six yards after getting up highest to meet a corner, before Hemed drilled wide from inside the box.
As the half wore on, Watford did create some chances, with Richarlison heading wide after being picked out by Holebas, and substitute Stefano Okaka went close as he tried to+ bundle the ball home at the far post after Mat Ryan had let a cross slip through his hands, but Brighton saw out a vital win having faced just one shot on target all match.
Brighton have lost just one of their last nine Premier League games on home soil, winning three and drawing five.
Watford have lost four consecutive Premier League games, as many defeats as they suffered in the previous 10 in the competition (W4 D2).
Watford have netted just one goal in their last three top-flight away games, this after scoring 2+ goals in each of their previous eight on the road in the competition.
Tomer Hemed has had a hand in four goals in his last five Premier League appearances at the Amex, scoring two and assisting two.
Man of the match - Pascal Gross
In a game of little quality on the whole, Gross stood out at the Amex. Gross' six key passes was double the output of any other creator on Saturday. It was not his fault his team-mates weren't on the same wavelength.
Gross has been directly involved in nine Premier League goals this season (four goals, five assists), four more than any other Brighton player - still very much one of the bargains of the season.
Chris Hughton: "It felt like a big win that today. It was a very good performance, a performance that deserved a win, more than a 1-0 scoreline. Of course, that [second] goal goes in, you are applying that bit more pressure on yourselves, but I thought we were very good today."
Marco Silva: "It was a difficult game. We did not perform well. We started very badly, but then the last 25 minutes we were much better. The second half we started the same way, but neither team had chances to score, Then in one moment, we made a mistake and they punished us."
The pundit - Paul Merson
"Brighton had plenty of chances last week and couldn't score and today they're doing exactly the same thing. They play some good football but it was a massive three points. Massive. If you look at the table, they'd have been joint-third bottom. But they've got a lot of teams between them now.
"And then the goal came. Gomes who's usually very good for Watford, the ball goes under him and flies up into the middle of the net.
"I said before, if they don't win this game they'll get relegated. And now they've got every chance."
Another London opponent for Brighton in their next festive fixture, with a trip to champions Chelsea up next on Boxing Day. Watford are back at home in three days time, with Leicester the visitors to Vicarage Road.
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