Wolves 0-2 Brighton: Anthony Knockaert edges Seagulls closer to promotion
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 14/04/17 10:26pm
Brighton took a huge stride towards promotion, and the Sky Bet Championship title, with a 2-0 victory over Wolves at a rain-soaked Molineux.
A goal in either half from talisman Anthony Knockaert - the 14th and 15th goals of his stellar season - fired the Seagulls four points clear of Newcastle at the top of the table.
The result leaves Brighton needing just four points from their remaining four games to seal promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history.
They could be promoted as early as Monday if results go their way, while Wolves remain 15th, eight points clear of the relegation zone.
The hosts started well enough but Brighton's superiority almost showed within 15 minutes when Romain Saiss gifted Dale Stephens the ball and he found Knockaert.
The winger then fed Tomer Hemed and the 17-goal forward struck the angle of post and bar with a thunderous drive.
The hosts offered plenty of endeavour and pressed with enthusiasm but lacked the quality to unlock the leaders, who gradually took control.
A stretching Hemed directed Bruno's cross off target on 25 minutes, while the Israel international also had a header tipped over by Andy Lonergan six minutes later.
But the title-chasers eventually took the lead on the stroke of half-time after a defensive nightmare from Wolves.
There seemed little danger when David Stockdale launched a long clearance downfield but Kortney Hause completely mis-read the flight of the ball, letting Knockaert in.
The 25-year-old raced towards the area and, despite Hause's desperate attempts to recover, embarrassed Lonergan as his near-post effort went through the Wolves stopper's attempted save.
Hemed shot over as Brighton went for the kill before the break and the 29-year-old continued to torment Wolves, diverting a cross over five minutes after the restart.
Wolves struggled to find a way back but did finally force Stockdale into action after an hour when he saved smartly from Conor Coady's header.
Ben Marshall prodded straight at Stockdale with 18 minutes left and then saw the goalkeeper beat away his angled drive as the plucky, yet limited Wolves tried to increase the pressure on Brighton.
But the visitors made the game safe with eight minutes to play when Knockaert grabbed his second, squeezing the ball under Lonergan after a quick Brighton break.
Wolves manager Paul Lambert:
"We started really well and for half an hour we were really in the game. But we were lost before half-time, where a catalogue of errors lead to their goal. We didn't test their goalkeeper enough while they were clinical. They played really well, got men behind the ball and, in the end, they deserve to go up."
Brighton manager Chris Hughton:
"We showed our determination to become a Premier League team against a very good side who had a high-intensity press. It was one of our most professional performances this season. We knew it would take time to break them down, we restricted their opportunities and, in the end, we had good opportunity of our own. It was a real, good, professional performance.
"There are still four games to go and we have to get as many points as we can from them. We know that mathematically four points would do it for us and we have to focus on getting them as quickly as possible."