Brighton and Hove Albion vs Bournemouth. Premier League.
Report and free match highlights as Roberto De Zerbi's side move up to sixth place in the Premier League; Kaoru Mitoma headed home winner as he scored for third game running
Saturday 4 February 2023 18:35, UK
Brighton left it late to beat Bournemouth with Kaoru Mitoma heading home three minutes from time to snatch a 1-0 win.
Fresh from his stoppage time winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup, Mitoma was at it again, meeting a left-wing cross with the clock ticking down to send Brighton up into sixth.
Roberto De Zerbi's men had scored 16 goals during January, including beating Liverpool twice, but were in wasteful mood, failing to score despite creating ample opportunities, especially in the first half.
Denis Undav and Danny Welbeck were the guilty parties on that front with Undav sensationally missing three quick-fire chances in four second with the last effort hitting the post.
But those missed chances didn't matter in the end as eventually Brighton found a way through with their Japanese star.
Brighton: Sanchez (7), Estupinan (7), Dunk (7), Veltman (7), Lamptey (7), Gross (7), Gilmour (6), March (7), Welbeck (5), Mitoma (7), Undav (5)
Subs: Caicedo (7), Ensico (6), Sarmiento (6), Webster (N/A)
Bournemouth: Neto (7), Smith (6), Mepham (6), Senesi (6), Zemura (7), Lerma (7), Billing (7), Traore (6), Anthony (7), Ouattara (7), Semenyo (5)
Subs: Christie (7), Rothwell (6), Vina (6)
Player of the match: Kaoru Mitoma
De Zerbi welcomed Moses Caicedo back into the fold after the player had pushed for a January move away but the Ecuadorian had to settle for a place on the bench.
Brighton, who were also without the suspended Alexis Mac Allister, had a chance inside the first two minutes when Danny Welbeck rose to meet Tariq Lamptey's cross inside the six-yard box but the Cherries avoided conceding an early opener when referee Craig Pawson ruled the Seagulls forward had fouled Neto.
Hamed Traore, one of six January signings for Gary O'Neil and making his Cherries debut along with Antoine Semenyo, crossed for Chris Mepham but he could only tap into the side-netting with the outside of his foot.
Undav then failed to score in an extraordinary period of play. His initial effort was blocked by Mepham before Neto parried the rebound only for the Brighton striker to ping his third attempt off the left post when it was easier to score.
Jefferson Lerma skied an effort at the other end before Pervis Estupinan brought down Dango Ouattara but a VAR check determined there was no penalty, which infuriated the Bournemouth bench.
The visitors survived an added-time onslaught as Undav sent a cross in the direction of the six-yard box but Welbeck could not connect.
The game became scrappier after the break which suited Bournemouth, who looked a threat on the break but Semenyo's decision making at crucial periods allowed Brighton off the hook.
The dangerous Dango Ouattara tested Robert Sanchez with a soft effort to the bottom corner but neither side was able to break the deadlock as the clock ticked past the 80-minute mark.
With the game petering out, it was left to Mitoma to create the decisive moment.
Jeremy Sarmiento whipped a cross into the area from the left and Mitoma nodded into the upper-left corner to keep Brighton rolling.
Sky Sports' Lewis Jones at The Amex:
It's pinch yourself territory for Brighton fans when it comes to the Premier League table. This is a club that is no longer transitioning towards the top, they are dining there with a team at the top of their game and a structure behind the scenes that is streets ahead of most of their Premier League rivals. It's an unwavering approach, with an unbelievable ability to adapt and pivot - clearing hurdles at a canter. A push for Europe is most certainly on the cards.
Change of manager? No problem. Loss of top scorer in January? Players in reserve. First-choice midfielder wants to leave? Options elsewhere. Everything thrown at them they seem to have an answer for. Even the Moses Caicedo situation, amid interest from Arsenal, was swiftly dealt with. No fuss. No problems. Roberto De Zerbi didn't even need a man that could have yielded the club £60m in January from the start, such is the strength and confidence he has instilled within his players.
The Seagulls are flying.
The M23 Derby follows for Brighton next week with a trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday February 11; kick-off 3pm. Fulham then visit the Amex on Saturday February 18; kick-off 3pm.
Bournemouth are live on Sky Sports next weekend when former manager Eddie Howe brings his Newcastle team to the south coast on Saturday February 11; kick-off 5.30pm. They then visit Wolves on Saturday February 18; kick-off 3pm.