Knockaert stars as Albion beat Rangers

Anthony Knockaert Photograph: Angela Brinkhurst
Anthony Knockaert Photograph: Angela Brinkhurst
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Anthony Knockaert starred as Brighton & Hove Albion closed the gap on the Championship top two with a 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers this evening.

Wonder strikes from Knockaert and Jiri Skalak set Albion on their way, before Connor Goldson and Knockaert, again, scored in the last 17 minutes as Albion recorded a fourth successive victory.

Albion remain third but are behind second-placed Burnley only on goal difference. They both trail leaders Middlesbrough by just two points after the Clarets scored a last minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with Boro tonight.

Albion led at half-time through Knockaert’s stunning free kick in first-half stoppage time, before they doubled their lead when Skalak unleashed an unstoppable 25-yard strike six minutes into the second half.

Goldson added a third with a thumping header on 73 minutes, before Knockaert got the fourth five minutes from time as the Albion fans went into party mood.

Brighton were not at their best in the opening 45 minutes as chances came and went at both ends.

Knockaert headed over from close range after a excellent run by James Wilson on 18 minutes, before Rangers’ Clint Hill glanced a header straight at Albion keeper David Stockdale from Alejandro Faurlin’s corner after 28 minutes.

An acrobatic effort from Tomer Hemed went over at the other end a minute later, before Rangers’ lively forward Matt Phillips won possession off Bruno and then saw a low drive well held by Stockdale.

Wilson again drove at the visiting defence and fired just wide of the far post on 34 minutes, before Phillips went close for Rangers but his 20-yarder did not dip quite enough.

Brighton defender Lewis Dunk was denied a third goal in four games by a save on the line by QPR keeper Alex Smithies on 41 minutes but the Seagulls went ahead shortly afterwards.

Skalak was adjudged to have been impeded as he jumped with Rangers captain Nedum Onuoha and Knockaert then beautifully curled the free kick into the top corner from 20 yards.

Skalak doubled Albion’s lead with arguably Brighton’s goal of the season. He smashed a quite outstanding half-volley from 25 yards into the top corner, giving Smithies no chance.

The Seagulls added a third on 73 minutes when Goldson met Knockaert’s corner at the back post and headed into the far top corner for his second goal for the club.

Rangers’ sub Sebastian Polter headed just wide in a rare second half opportunity for the visitors on 77 minutes, before Goldson side-footed over from 15 yards at the other end after Dale Stephens’ low centre.

Knockaert then added Brighton’s fourth with a low strike from the edge of the penalty area five minutes from time.

BRIGHTON: Stockdale; Bruno, Goldson, Dunk, Rosenior; Knockaert, Kayal, Stephens, Skalak (Murphy 70); Wilson (Baldock 45), Hemed. Subs: Maenpaa, Greer, Bong, Sidwell, LuaLua.

QPR: Smithies; Hall, Onuoha, Hill (Chery 60), Phillips, Washington (El Khayati 70), Faurlin, Henry, Luongo, Hoilett (Polter 54), Perch. Subs: Ingram, Gladwin, Petrasso, Kpekawa.

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