The American Express Stadium was the home of the evening Premier League kickoff for the second consecutive week, and it looked to be a tough test for both sides. Roberto De Zerbi’s men came into this looking for a response to their loss against West Ham United last time out, while Newcastle United arrived in East Sussex in search of their first win since their opening day demolition of Aston Villa.
BHA: Verbruggen; Van Hecke, Dunk, Veltman, Estupinan; Gilmour, Gross, March; Pedro, Mitoma, Ferguson
NEW: Pope; Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett; Tonali, Guimaraes, Joelinton; Almiron, Gordon, Isak
A bright evening in East Sussex began with Newcastle United on the front foot, as Alexander Isak almost opened the scoring early on – but Jan Paul van Hecke managed to make the tackle in time to prevent the deadlock being broken. The Swedish international had another chance just moments later as Sandro Tonali won the ball off Pervis Estupinan just outside the box and cut the ball back towards him, but Isak’s shot whistled wide.
Brighton’s first chance fell the way of Solly March, who looked to curl the ball into the top corner – only for it to float just over the bar. March then turned provider a few moments later as he whipped a ball in looking for Evan Ferguson, only for Nick Pope to turn the cross away with a good low save.
A brilliant pass by former Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour found Ferguson just inside the Magpies box with just under fifteen minutes gone, but the young Irishman’s shot was tame and Pope collected comfortably.
Miguel Almiron also had a chance of his own to open the scoring for Newcastle, but a close range save by Seagulls stopper Verbruggen allowed any potential danger to be averted. A counterattack moments later saw Isak make his way into the Brighton box again, but his cutback towards Anthony Gordon was mistimed and the ball was then cleared by England international Lewis Dunk.
With just twenty-seven minutes gone, the deadlock was broken – and it was in favour of Brighton. Estupinan found Mitoma who fired towards goal, and while that effort was blocked, the ball landed at Gilmour’s feet. He fired a rocket towards goal only for Pope’s save to fall for Evan Ferguson, who had the simple task of tapping home a deserved opener for the home side on the rebound.
It almost got even better for Roberto De Zerbi’s men just two minutes later, as a wonderful run by Mitoma found Joao Pedro just outside the Newcastle box, but the Brazilian could only fire just above the bar.
Joelinton then found himself at the other end looking to get the Magpies level, but his strike drifted just wide of the bottom corner.
As the first half neared its end, a Brighton corner saw Dunk latch his head onto the ball from a Solly March cross, but the header was off target and floated over the bar.
The second 45 minutes started out in a rather contrasting fashion to the first half, with little goalmouth action on show, until the impressive Joao Pedro received the ball from Solly March. With the ball, the Brazilian took an excellent – but heavy – first touch, with his second seeing him fail to get his shot away.
Newcastle captain Kieran Trippier then gave the ball away inside his own box, and Pedro almost punished the England international for his mistake, only for the chance to be taken away from Brighton’s number nine at the last minute.
While Newcastle had started the second half on the front foot, Brighton were the side taking their chances. And they did so again as they – and Evan Ferguson – grabbed their second of the game with just under twenty five minutes to go. A loss of possession in the Newcastle midfield allowed the Irish youngster to make a run towards goal and finish wonderfully past Nick Pope from distance into the bottom right corner.
It got even better for Ferguson – and Brighton – just five minutes later as he secured his first career hat trick. Kaoru Mitoma, who had impressed for the Seagulls all game, found some space to drive into and laid the ball off to Evan Ferguson, who – with the aid of a small deflection off Fabian Schar – found the back of the net for the third time and effectively sealed the win for his side.
In second-half stoppage time, Newcastle substitute Callum Wilson grabbed a consolation for the Magpies as he pounced onto a through ball from fellow substitute Sean Longstaff, got past van Hecke, and fired home with the outside of his boot – in the end, something for the away end to celebrate, but too little, too late for the side from Northumberland.
Three goals and three points – it doesn’t get any better than that for Roberto de Zerbi, Brighton and especially their hat-trick hero Evan Ferguson. However, it is now three defeats on the spin for Newcastle United, with Eddie Howe left wondering how to halt this slump in form.
Both sides return to Premier League action following the first of four international breaks next week. Newcastle head back home to host Brentford at St. James’ Park, while Brighton head up north to take on Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Seagulls kick off at 3pm on September 16th, while the Magpies’ clash with Brentford takes place the following day at 4:30pm.