Brighton 2-1 Sheff Wed: Anthony Knockaert brace fires Seagulls top of Championship
By Simeon Gholam
Last Updated: 20/01/17 10:28pm
Anthony Knockaert's double fired Brighton back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in a frenetic clash that saw three men sent off at the Amex.
The Frenchman opened the scoring for the Seagulls after 34 minutes on Friday night, before Lewis Dunk put through his own net on the stroke of half-time to level the game.
Glenn Murray then saw red for a handball in the box, but Brighton goalkeeper David Stockdale denied Fernando Forestieri from the spot, and kept out his rebound, while Knockaert struck again late on to seal all three points for the home side.
Wednesday would then finish the game with nine men as Steven Fletcher and Sam Hutchinson were dismissed as it boiled over late on. The Owls stay sixth, while Brighton move two points clear of Newcastle at the top.
Brighton were hoping to recover from their setback at Preston last weekend, and nearly opened the scoring less than two minutes after kick-off.
Knockaert was the architect as his run and pass found Murray, but his slightly-scuffed effort was kept out well by Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, who got up well to deny Jamie Murphy straight afterwards.
A lively start then petered out somewhat, and momentum was halted even further just after the half-hour mark as Wednesday right-back Jack Hunt was forced off on a stretcher after being caught by Sebastian Pocognoli.
Shortly afterwards, though, Brighton had the lead thanks to the swiftest of counter-attacks as Oliver Norwood and Tomer Hemed combined before finding Knockaert. The Frenchman's first touch was heavy, but he recovered brilliantly to nudge the ball past Westwood before composing himself and firing into the roof of the net.
The Seagulls were well in control and looked to be heading into the break in the lead, but a comedy of errors allowed Wednesday level after 45 minutes. Forestieri had been quiet until that point, but put in a quality cross from the left that Norwood managed to steer towards his own goal before Dunk accidentally nodded it home.
Brighton came out on the attack again in the second half, and had a glorious opportunity to take the lead after 54 minutes. Norwood's free-kick found the head of Shane Duffy in the middle, but he couldn't direct his header on target after rising highest in the box.
The pivotal moment in the game, however, came 10 minutes later as Murray saw red after a Glenn Loovens' shot heading struck his hands. Forestieri then stepped up to the spot, but saw his effort saved by Stockdale before the Brighton goalkeeper reacted superbly to also deny his follow-up attempt.
And the Owls would pay for that miss five minutes from time as Knockaert turned home a Pocognoli cross to send the Amex wild.
It went from bad to worse for Wednesday as substitute Fletcher was dismissed for an apparent headbutt on Dale Stephens in the dying stages, before Hutchinson was shown a second yellow for a late lunge on Solly March.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton:
"After losing at Preston, one thing I did say is we get a reaction and hope come the end of the season it would have done us a favour, because it brings everybody back down to earth.
"We've got a lot of spirit in the team and we needed it today because they're a very good side who moved the ball very well. You need your good moments in the game and fortunately for us we got them.
"We were all realistic and at that stage [after Murray's sending off] you'd settle for 1-1 no doubt. It's always nice to play on a Friday when you win. We'll enjoy the Saturday but then we have a tough game against Cardiff on Tuesday."
Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal:
"We must win this game. Especially with the way we played in the second half and the press we did to Brighton. We tried everything to win. We were fantastic in the beginning of the game and part of the second half but I think about what we can control and things we must control.
"The things we can control: we missed a penalty, which can happen, the things we can't control is the emotion. That is not acceptable. We lost two players in the situation and that can't happen in the future.
"We created good chances and it made everyone very upset when we missed the penalty."