Brighton 1-2 Chelsea: Palmer and Nkunku Boost Blues' European Hopes - Football News - Latest Global News

Brighton 1-2 Chelsea: Palmer and Nkunku Boost Blues’ European Hopes – Football News

Chelsea maintained their top European position with a fourth straight win on Wednesday, beating Brighton 2-1 at the Amex Stadium.

Cole Palmer’s superb header – his 22nd Premier League goal in his superb debut season at Stamford Bridge – put the Blues ahead after they were denied an early penalty by a VAR review.

Both teams had plenty of chances, with Pascal Gross going particularly close for Brighton, but Christopher Nkunku pounced and gave Chelsea breathing room in the second half.

Chelsea captain Reece James was sent off late for a malicious kick on Joao Pedro and Danny Welbeck halved the deficit in stoppage time, but the visitors held on to ensure they still have a place in the top six heading into the final day of the match have in hand.

Chelsea thought they had a chance for a penalty early on when Facundo Buonanotte’s foul on Marc Cucurella was penalized, but the penalty was overturned after a VAR review.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side continued to push for the lead when Malo Gusto’s deflected shot was saved by Bart Verbruggen and they finally made the breakthrough in the 34th minute.

Cucurella burst down the left before firing a cross into the box and Palmer arrived to send a looping header over the goalkeeper and into the net.

Nicolas Jackson had an excellent chance to extend Chelsea’s lead deep into first-half stoppage time, but failed to volley in Palmer’s cross.

Shortly after the break, substitute Nkunku came close, but his shot from the edge of the penalty area went just wide.

The Seagulls should have equalized in the 57th minute when Tariq Lamptey’s cross found Gross unchallenged, but he somehow shot wide from inside the six-yard box.

Pochettino’s men punished that miss seven minutes later with Gusto hitting back and allowing Nkunku to find the bottom corner with his first-time finish.

James was sent off just before injury time following a VAR review as it appeared he had thrown out Pedro. The Seagulls increased the pressure from there as Adingra hit the post with a volley before Welbeck fired home a Pedro effort, but Chelsea ultimately held firm.

Brighton receives the first curse

Brighton have now gone winless in their last 11 games, conceding their first goal in the Premier League, a run that dates back to a win over Brentford on December 6.

The Seagulls had a chance to equalize after Palmer’s header in the first half, but Nkunku’s goal gave them a mountain to climb that they couldn’t climb even with a one-man lead.

Finishing in the top half is now the limit of Brighton’s ambitions. They remain in 10th place and a win over Manchester United on the final day will ensure they do not fall into the bottom half.

Chelsea’s impressive 2024 continues

Pochettino has begun to turn things around since the start of 2024, with Chelsea taking 32 points in the Premier League since the start of January.

Palmer’s contributions have certainly helped the Argentine, with the young attacker scoring the opening goal in nine league games this season.

Chelsea fans wouldn’t have expected a late push for the European places, but with the Blues sitting in sixth place heading into the final day, qualification is in their hands.

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