Six things we learned from Brighton's win against Birmingham
Back to the top, 20-up for Murray and a first Seagulls goal for Hunemeier. Here's six things we learned from Albion's 3-1 victory against Birmingham.
OVER TO YOU
Albion's win took them back to the top of the Championship and 12 points clear of Huddersfield, who dropped to fourth after Reading beat Blackburn 3-1. The Seagulls weren't at their best in the opening 45 minutes but two goals in the opening nine minutes of the second half put the game to bed.
Anthony Knockaert said in the pre-match press conference he wouldn't want to be in Huddersfield's position - especially if Albion won. He said there would be big pressure on the Terriers, who have two games in hand, if they went into their home match with Norwich 12 points adrift of Brighton.
The Seagulls players and fans alike can put their feet up tomorrow and watch the scores come in from Newcastle and Huddersfield knowing they did their job tonight.
WHAT A START (TWICE)
As soon as the teams were announced, there was an air of anticipation among Albion fans. Solly March and Anthony Knockaert on the wings was a mouthwatering proposition as they started a match together for just the fifth time this season.
It then took the Seagulls just over a minute to take the lead. Beram Kayal's outstanding long ball forward released Anthony Knockaert, who slipped the ball to Bruno and his cross was turned home by Glenn Murray.
Albion then took under three minutes to double their lead in the second half. Bruno's clipped ball to the back post was headed back across goal by Murray and Tomer Hemed was on hand to chest the ball home for his 14th goal of the season. Within six minutes, Albion had added a third through Uwe Hunemeier and it turned into a comfortable evening.
For the second time in his Albion career, Glenn Murray has scored 20 goals in a season.
Signed from Rochdale in January, 2008, Murray notched 22 times for the Seagulls as they were promoted from League One as champions in 2010-11. He struck 56 goals in 145 appearances in his first spell at the club, before he joined arch rivals Crystal Palace in the summer of 2011. Spells at Reading (loan) and Bournemouth followed, before Murray rejoined Brighton in the summer, initially on loan before he made the move permanent in January.
His 20th goal came in his 40th appearance of the season and he's a firm favourite with the Seagulls fans once again.
ALL CHANGE AT THE BACK AGAIN
Seagulls boss Chris Hughton made two changes in defence from the 1-0 win over Blackburn on Saturday, with Bruno and Gatean Bong replacing Liam Rosenior and Sebastien Pocognoli in the full-back positions. Albion were then forced into a change after half-an-hour when Lewis Dunk was forced off with a sickness bug and Fikayo Tomori came on to partner Uwe Hunemeier in central defence.
Hughton will no doubt be pleased with the amount of defensive options he has at his disposal as he's had to call on them in the past few weeks. Tonight was Bong's first game since early January, while Shane Duffy is still out with a broken metatarsal and Connor Goldson was ruled out for the season in Feburary with a heart issue.
Uwe Hunemeier has been in excellent form for the Seagulls of late and Albion fans were delighted to see the German defender score his first goal for the club. He was also a popular choice as the sponsors' man of the match.
Out of the team for long periods due to the outstanding form of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy, Hunemeier has been a model professional. He's never moaned but just got on with his job, realising he has to be ready when called upon. And he's more than done that.
After a shaky performance in the 3-3 draw at Brentford in February, he has now helped the Seagulls keep three clean sheets in five matches. It would have been four shut-outs had Che Adams not hit a late consolation, with the aid of a deflection off Hunemeier past David Stockdale.
There's sure to be a few more fingernails in tatters before the end of the season. The first half was certainly a nerve wracking one at times, despite Albion's early lead, the visitors were the better side in the first period.
Craig Gardner's free kick rattled off the bar and City asked some questions going forward with Albion not at their best. Where we are in the season, it is to be expected, there will be nervy moments, but seemingly with a few choice words ringing in their ears at half-time the Seagulls didn't look back. And an accomplished and professional second-half showing will banish any first-half concerns.
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