Six things we learned from Brighton's win against Derby
Up for it from the off and a comfortable win against mid-table Derby. Here's six things we learned as Albion moved level on points with Newcastle at the top of the Championship.
UP FOR IT
Albion started at a fast tempo, which Derby failed to match. With the Rams' play-off hopes all but over, they gave a performance of a team with nothing to play for. The passion Cyrus Christie showed when pushing Glenn Murray away after a challenge by the Albion frontman with 15 minutes to go was something the visitors should have shown from the off. The fact the Derby fans cheered when their side got a corner late on said it all.
Jiri Skalak almost gave Brighton the lead with a low strike after four minutes, before Anthony Knockaert got the opener soon afterwards. More chances came and went in an impressive Albion showing before Sam Baldock got the second just before half-time. Glenn Murray added a late third in a confidence-boosting performance for the Seagulls, who have a tricky trip to Leeds next week.
It's fair to say there was a bit of bemusement when the Derby starting line-up was announced. Four strikers? Is that right? To start Darren Bent, David Nugent, Matej Vydra and Tom Ince was a bold move by Rams boss Steve McLaren and it just didn't work. An open game suited the Seagulls down to the ground and Albion dominated the first half, with the visitors unable to get a foothold in the game. Saying that, Bent and Vydra both had decent opportunities in the opening 45 minutes but the result was never in doubt from the moment Sam Baldock made it 2-0 just before half-time. The Rams were more difficult to break through in the second half after a double change at the interval but Albion still added a third through Glenn Murray.
Anthony Knockaert produced a dazzling display and Derby just could not cope with him. He gave Albion the lead with a stunning low 25-yard strike for his 13th goal of the season inside five minutes and that set the tone for the rest of the game.
He then got his eighth assist of the campaign late in the game when he set up Glenn Murray for Albion's third. The Frenchman is well in the running for the Championship player of the season award.
ALL CHANGE AT THE BACK
Lewis Dunk has been the one constant in the Albion back line in the past few matches. In the 3-0 win at home to Reading two weeks ago, the Brighton defence was Bruno, Shane Duffy, Dunk, Sebastien Pocognoli. Since then, Pocognoli hasn't featured for three games after limping off in the Reading and Newcastle matches with a groin injury, Duffy broke a metatarsal in the defeat at Nottingham Forest last week and is out for six weeks and Bruno limped off with a groin injury tonight. What the injuries show is Albion's strength in depth. Liam Rosenior and Uwe Hunemeier have helped Albion to back-to-back clean sheets and Fikayo Tomori, a loanee from Chelsea, also gave a solid performance.
UNWANTED LIGHT SHOW
Heading towards the hour mark and with Albion in cruise control, fans in the East Stand started to shine the lights on their phone. It didn't go down too well with the North Stand , who responded with 'sing up, put your phones away'. When you have a minor dispute between two stands, you know it's been a comfortable evening on the pitch.
OVER TO YOU
Albion's win puts the pressure on Huddersfield tomorrow. The Seagulls moved nine points clear of the Terriers with the victory. Huddersfield head to Brentford knowing a win is a must to keep the pressure on Brighton.
Albion are also now level on points with Newcastle, who play their game in hand at home to Fulham tomorrow.
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