Brighton 2-1 Wigan: Glenn Murray and Solly March take Seagulls to promotion
By Rory O'Callaghan
Last Updated: 17/04/17 7:48pm
Brighton sealed a return to the top flight for the first time in 34 years with a comfortable 2-1 home victory over relegation candidates Wigan.
Glenn Murray fired the Seagulls in front shortly before the break with his 22nd league goal of the season before Solly March added a second from close-range.
Nick Powell set up a nervy finish with his fifth goal in three games but it proved to be too little, too late as Brighton held out for a crucial win despite failing to produce their best form for long periods of the game.
Albion went into Monday's game needing four more points to guarantee promotion but Huddersfield's failure to beat Derby in the late game meant that a win was enough.
Chris Hughton's side slightly shaded the opening half-an-hour which featured precious little in the way of clear-cut chances.
Wigan goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard dropped a free-kick straight into the path of Lewis Dunk but the Seagulls defender was unable to find a way past Wigan's scrambling defence.
Brighton eventually found the breakthrough seven minutes before the interval. A long punt downfield from Dunk caused havoc in the Wigan defence - allowing Tomer Hemed to set up Murray on the edge of the box.
The former Crystal Palace man made no mistake with his first-time finish - rifling the ball past Haugaard to hand his side the lead.
Brighton thought they had a second just moments later but Dunk's close-range header was ruled out by the linesman for push, shortly after Jake Buxton had denied Hemed with a late-ditch clearance.
Anthony Knockaert forced Haugaard into a superb fingertip save minutes after the restart and then had a hand in Brighton's all important second goal.
After beating his man in the box with a series of neat stopovers, Knockaert played the ball back to Solly March, who made a yard of space for himself before driving the ball through the legs of the helpless Haugaard.
Knockaert had a goal of his own disallowed for offside just minutes later as the home side threatened to cut loose but it was in fact Wigan who pulled one back - Powell heading home Jamie Hanson's cross to set up a nervy finish at the Amex.
The Latics pushed for an equaliser but failed to create any further clear-cut chances as Brighton held out for the win.
Thousands of home supporters streamed onto the pitch at the full-time whistle to celebrate the victory, and promotion was sealed a few hours later as Derby held Huddersfield to a 1-1 draw.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton:
"It's a wonderful achievement and there's so many people that I'm absolutely delighted for, certainly the chairman [Tony Bloom]. He's a local man and has invested an incredible amount of money in this football club.
"I knew we had a group of lads that were capable of doing it, but being capable of doing it and actually doing it are two different things. They've been good all season. They've bounced back and shown good determination and desire to win as many games as possible.
"This is a club that haven't been in the Premier League. This was a club that had been in the play-offs two years running before I got here, so it wasn't a club that was used to being at the bottom end of the division."
Wigan interim boss Graham Barrow:
"What we had worked on and talked about was working and I was pleased with most of what went on in terms of our midfielders and how hard they worked to be organised and restrict Brighton to give us a platform.
"However, I am so disappointed with the first goal, I find it hard to believe we conceded a goal from that situation and if we go on the training pitch tomorrow and put that into practice, I don't think we'd concede in 20 times of doing it, and that's disappointing."