Florin Andone strike earns Brighton first victory of 2019

Brighton grabbed their first Premier League victory of 2019 at the eighth attempt with a 1-0 win over Huddersfield.

The victory halted a slide that had threatened to drag the Seagulls from mid-table at Christmas into the bottom three.

Substitute Florin Andone scored the only goal after 79 minutes of a nervy encounter with his fourth league goal of the season to give his side three points that they just about deserved for an improved second-half display.

Huddersfield had won for the first time in 15 matches in midweek, but back-to-back victories proved beyond them. They are without an away league goal in 452 minutes since Mathias Jorgensen scored in their 3-1 loss at Manchester United on Boxing Day.

The two teams had the worst records over the previous six Premier League games and the first half was predictably lacklustre. The early play was tentative on both sides, neither team wanting to make the first mistake.

Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan did not have to handle the ball until the 10th minute when he dropped onto an underhit shot from Steve Mounie.

Brighton tested the patience of the home crowd by sitting deep, and Huddersfield came closest to taking the lead when Alex Pritchard shot fiercely from 25 yards.

The ball was hit almost straight at Ryan but the Australia goalkeeper fumbled what should have been a straightforward catch and had to rush out to punch away as visiting players closed in.

But Brighton came even closer after 39 minutes. Alireza Jahanbakhsh advanced down the left to the corner of the penalty area and curled a shot over Jonas Lossl, the ball smacking the crossbar and rebounding into play. The Iranian was the top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaar last season but has yet to score for Brighton.

Then a sweeping move involving Dale Stephens and Anthony Knockaert resulted in a corner to Brighton but Shane Duffy nodded Knockaert’s kick well over the bar.

However, the half ended with Ryan sprawling to his left to parry a low shot from Bacuna, which was a reminder to Brighton than Huddersfield had ideas of their own.

Brighton showed more energy and urgency in the early stages of the second half and Glenn Murray must have thought his 100th league goal for the club was imminent when Knockaert’s diagonal pass put him in on Lossl. But Juninho Bacuna sped across to block the striker’s shot.

Jahanbakhsh, showing a willingness to take opponents on, was having easily his best game for Brighton and saw a shot saved by Lossl after forcing his way through on the left.

But the visitors continued to look threatening when they had the ball. In the 66th minute Duffy was forced to nod the ball away under pressure and Ryan had to be alert to field Philip Billing’s angled shot.

By now Andone was on for Murray and he forced a flying one-handed save from Lossl with a shot on the turn from 20 yards. And 11 minutes from time he settled the match.

Seconds after a header by Duffy had been cleared off the line, Knockaert took a pass from Jose Izquierdo and crossed for Andone to escape his marker and glance a header over Lossl and in.

The Romanian striker, a £5million summer signing from Deportivo La Corunam had scored his first goal against the same opponents in December.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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