Brighton edged out Newcastle United to record their second successive home Premier League victory.
The hosts scored when Pascal Gross’ free-kick was headed back across goal by Dale Stephens and Tomer Hemed hooked the ball in from six yards out.
Newcastle, who had won their past three league matches, had chances, but Mikel Merino’s volley was pushed wide by Mat Ryan, Joselu twice missed when well placed, and substitute Jonjo Shelvey hit a post direct from a corner.
Victory lifted the Seagulls to 13th in the table, while Newcastle dropped to ninth.
Brighton hang on
Newcastle had more possession, more shots and more attempts on target, but Rafael Benitez’s side could not force an equaliser.
Substitutes Jesus Gamez and Dwight Gayle had efforts late on, but the former shot wide and the latter’s attempt was saved by Ryan.
Newcastle, buoyed by the 68th-minute arrival of England midfielder Shelvey, forced several corners as they piled on the pressure, but they could not get past a Brighton defence in which Lewis Dunk, Stephens and Bruno excelled.
Watched by an Amex Stadium record crowd of 30,468, Chris Hughton’s team claimed their second victory of the season following the 3-1 success over West Brom on 9 September.
Steady starts for promoted pair
This was a meeting of the teams who finished in the top-two spots in the championship last season, with Newcastle winning the title by one point on the final day.
Both teams will be pleased with how they have performed in the opening six games at the higher level.
Brighton have seven points, two fewer than Newcastle, who have won three and lost three, although Magpies boss Benitez will feel this was a missed opportunity.
In only the second minute, Merino’s shot from outside the area brought a good save from Ryan and Joselu – who joined in a £5m move from Stoke in August – twice should have done better but poked wide from six yards out then glanced a header off target.
After Brighton took the lead in the 51st minute, they had a chance to double their advantage, but Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot produced a fine save to deny Solly March.
The away side dominated from that point on, but Benitez’s side was frustrated by a robust Brighton defence.
‘An illegal block’
Benitez was unhappy with the Brighton goal, feeling Chancel Mbemba was fouled and referee Andre Marriner should have penalised the home side.
“It was a block, an illegal block,” said the Spaniard. “You cannot argue too much but it is very difficult to understand some things.
“They pushed my players. I am not happy with the way we conceded.
“At the end we had the control. Credit to them because they did well in the first half. We passed the ball a little better, they were defending more because they were winning.
“I was happy before the game and not so happy after the game. It is a long way to go so we have to keep going and keep improving.”
Hughton plays down Hemed incident
Newcastle players were unhappy with an 89th-minute incident during which they claimed Hamed had stamped on the ankle of DeAndre Yedlin.
Hughton defended his player and said any contact would have been accidental.
“My very first impression is there was no intent,” said the former Newcastle manager. “There has been contact but my first impression is no intent and knowing the individual I would say no intent.”
A second successive victory at the Amex Stadium is a significant boost for the league’s newcomers, and Hughton believes it is important for his players to believe they belong among the elite of the English game.
“Psychologically it’s important for us,” added the former Tottenham defender. “We’ll go into the Arsenal game the way we go into every game, looking for a result. But we know it’ll be tougher. Anything you can get from that is a bonus.
“If we do things well and to the best of our abilities, we can compete with a group of teams. But we have to play at a good enough level to do that.”
Man of the match – Tomer Hemed (Brighton)
Hemed shows his quality – stats
- Brighton have won back-to-back home league games in the top flight for the first time since November 1982.
- Tomer Hemed has been involved in three goals in his last two home Premier League games (two goals, one assist).
- Hemed’s last six league goals for the Seagulls have all been scored at the Amex.
- Hemed has had a hand in 20 goals in his last 23 league starts at the Amex for Brighton (15 goals, five assists).
- Newcastle have lost 22 of their last 24 away Premier League games in which they’ve conceded the first goal (won one, drew one).
- Rafael Benitez has lost each of his last four Premier League matches against newly-promoted sides, having lost only two of the first 40.
- The three matches in which Brighton have avoided defeat this season have come against sides starting that day in the top seven – 0-0 v Watford (fourth), 3-1 v West Brom (fifth) and 1-0 v Newcastle (seventh).
- Newcastle have now lost their last three away Premier League games in which they’ve attempted at least 17 shots – also Sunderland in October 2015 (21, lost 3-0) and QPR in May 2015 (22, lost 2-1).
Both teams next play in the Premier League on Sunday, 1 October, with Brighton away at Arsenal (12:00 BST), while Newcastle play Liverpool at home (16:30 BST).