Brighton 1-0 Newcastle: Five talking points as Tomer Hemed stars
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 25/09/17 8:52am
Brighton claimed a 1-0 win over Newcastle on Nissan Super Sunday but what were the big talking points from the game?
Tomer Hemed scored the winner early at the second half at the Amex Stadium, with Newcastle unable to make their late pressure count as they pushed for an equaliser.
From Hemed's heroics to Brighton's home form, here are five talking points...
Brighton's prospects looked bleak when they failed to land a striker in the summer, with Vincent Janssen's preference for Fenerbahce leaving Hughton worryingly light up front, but Hemed is making the most of his opportunity to lead the line in the Premier League.
The Israeli's well-taken winner was his second goal in two home games, and he was a handful for Newcastle all afternoon, winning duels and headers and providing an effective focal point for his team-mates. In the Sky Sports commentary box, Andy Hinchcliffe awarded him the man-of-the-match award.
"In the first half he lacked a bit of anticipation when the ball was bouncing around the six-yard box but he was alive when that header came across from Dale Stephens and he took his chance really well," he said. "His hold-up play has been good, his work-rate is good too. He's a real team player and he has had a good afternoon."
The only blot on Hemed's performance was his apparent stamp on Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin in the second half. Hughton insisted there was "no intent" from the striker in his post-match interview, but Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness expects him to receive a three-game ban.
"For me, he's had a good look and I think he knows exactly what he's doing," he said. "It would have been very easy to put his foot down somewhere else. I think it might come back to bite him. It's something he shouldn't be doing but in the heat of the moment he's got it wrong."
With a tricky run of games against Arsenal, Everton and West Ham coming up, Brighton would be loath to lose their in-form striker. "The bigger picture is that if anything happens to him, if someone reviews that, then he will be a massive loss," added Thierry Henry.
Newcastle hard done by?
Rafael Benitez felt Newcastle were unlucky to leave the Amex Stadium empty-handed, insisting there was a foul on Chancel Mbemba before Hemed's goal. "I think that we did enough to get a point at least," he told Sky Sports. "We had a lot of chances and for me the goal was a foul for blocking. It's so clear but you cannot change the decision."
In the Sky Sports studio, Henry agreed that it was a foul but felt Newcastle paid the price for not appealing to the referee. "None of the Newcastle players are arguing, making the job easy for the referee," he said. "You don't want players to surround the referee and put him under pressure, but if you don't question it as the team that concedes the goal, what should the referee do?"
Newcastle endured a frustrating summer in the transfer window, missing out on a number of top targets, but in Mikel Merino they appear to have acquired a gem. The Spanish midfielder, who is on loan from Borussia Dortmund, continued his strong start to life in the Premier League with another impressive performance.
Merino completed 60 of his 67 passes - the most by anyone on the pitch - and also forced a fine save from Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan with a stringing volley from Matt Ritchie's corner in the opening minutes. He also impressed defensively, making more tackles (five) and more ball recoveries (seven) than any of his team-mates.
Home form key for Hughton
This was Brighton's second consecutive home win after their 3-1 victory over West Brom. The atmosphere was electric at the Amex Stadium and Hughton feels their home form gives them a platform to build on as they battle against relegation.
"Home form will be important, more of our wins will be at home than away from home," he told Sky Sports. "We have to make sure this is a tough place to come, we've been good here the last few seasons. We have to build on a solid platform."