Brighton moved a step closer to their 90 point target, thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over Derby, in a game where they never got out of 2nd gear.
Albion worked their first opening inside four minutes, as Anthony Knockaert picked out Jiri Skalak in space and the Czech winger cut inside the Derby defence and saw his shot go just past the far post. But Knockaert did break the deadlock just a minute later when he latched onto Bruno’s pass eluded Julien de Sart with some brilliant skill and fired an unstoppable low strike beyond Scott Carson. Derby reminded Albion of their own threat going forward when Cyrus Christie drifted in a cross towards former Seagulls loanee Darren Bent, but his downward header went over the crossbar. Hughton’s men continued their lively start when Beram Kayal and Sam Baldock linked up well to create a chance for Glenn Murray, but Carson was out quickly to thwart the striker. Skalak then floated in a corner towards Murray, who couldn’t quite divert his header on target at the near post. Albion’s movement continued to cause the Rams defence problems as Murray and Knockaert set Baldock through on goal, but his angled attempt went over. Brighton ramped up the pressure on the Derby goal with further chances for Murray and Baldock, before Carson had to react quickly to push over Skalak’s goalbound corner. The hosts continued to dominate proceedings; Kayal released Baldock through on goal again but Carson denied Albion’s number nine, while Murray’s header went agonisingly over from Skalak’s incisive cross. The second goal finally arrived courtesy of Baldock with 43 minutes on the clock, as he latched onto a deflected ball from Murray before coolly slotting home. Albion took little time after the re-start to reassert their dominance. David Stockdale sent a long ball forward, which was flicked on by Baldock into the path of Knockaert, who forced Carson into a one-handed save from distance. Despite Brighton’s superiority, Derby came close from another Christie cross but Matej Vydra’s header skimmed off the frame of the goal. The Seagulls were dealt an injury blow midway through the second half when Bruno was forced off with what looked like a groin injury and he was replaced by Fikayo Tomori. The Chelsea loanee set up Albion’s next chance with a flick on towards Murray, who controlled the ball inside the box but saw his shot blocked. Albion then made the game safe when Knockaert found Murray inside the box, whose shot ricocheted off Carson, then the striker’s own shin, before hitting the back of the net with 78 minutes played. Baldock almost got his second and Albion’s fourth in stoppage time with a strike that deflected inches wide, but the game ended 3-0.
Stockdale (6); Nothing to do, could of sat out in the goal mount with his sun lounger and newspaper.
Bruno (7); Stood up well with Vydra, and added extra incentive when attacking.
Hunemeier (7); Very good performance for his first home game in 15 months, against 2 very good strikers in Bent and Nugent.
Dunk (7); Standard night for the big centre half, nothing to trouble him too much.
Rosenior (8); Looked sharp going forward, and limited Ince to barely anything the whole game.
Knockaert (9); Back to his bubbly best with some neat trickery, and another great goal, not to mention another assist.
Kayal (8); Absolutly brilliant game from him; dynamic, busy and dangerous all what was needed to beat a side like Derby.
Stephens (7); Not much offering when going forward, but it was all about quelling the Derby front 4 and keeping the clean sheet.
Skalak (8); Played in some brilliant crosses, one of which should of been scored by Murray, but his hustle allowed him to nick the ball of Hughes for the third goal.
Baldock (7); Back on the scoresheet, but finishing and decision-making was lacking just a bit.
Murray (8); Gave the Derby centre-half a tough night winning balls in the air; was rewarded for his presistance with a goal.
Tomori (7); Did a solid job when filling in for Bruno, and had a couple of good strides forward.
Hemed (N/A); On for the closing stages of the game.
March (N/A); Last minute run-out to see the game out.
BHAFC - DCFC; Knockaert (5), Baldock (43), Murray (79);