SUSSEX: Christian Benteke’s stunning last-minute volley stole Crystal Palace a much-needed 2-1 win over rivals, Brighton.
Having conceded inside five minutes in all three of their last games, Palace were adamant not to surrender the lead so easily here. The visitors sat tight and deep against a Brighton side who, for all their smart football, struggle to score at the best of times.
The Eagles were offering little on the front foot but Vicente Guaita had not been tested at all.
This usually fervent contest was merely plodding along until Jean-Philippe Mateta, the French striker signed from Mainz in January, brought a moment of magic to bag his first goal for the club.
Andre Ayew flew down the right onto a ball from Cheikhou Kouyate, managing to get ahead of a sliding Dan Burn and fire a low cross into the near post where his new teammate pirouetted and back-heeled the ball through the legs of Robert Sanchez and in.
Palace now had something to defend in the second half, but it did not last too long. Graham Potter sent on Danny Welbeck and the hosts ramped up the pressure.
Pascal Gross’s shot from the edge of the box was hooked away from Welbeck by Tyrick Mitchell, but only to the feet of Joel Veltman, who fired home his first goal for Brighton at the near post.
Brighton were all over their visitors pushing for a late winner until Palace broke in the final minute of added time, Andros Townsend swung a ball to Benteke at the far post and the Belgian unleashed a pin-point volley across Sanchez and into the far corner.