The big game of the evening in the football league came at the Amex, as the Championship’s top two sides went head-to-head in a match that could decide who wins the title. It was Brighton who took the lead from the spot, as Glenn Murray dispatched his 17th goal of the season.
Two goals in the last ten minutes swung the tie in Newcastle’s favour. Their first was more suited to a pinball machine than a football pitch, as Christian Atsu’s shot deflected off Mo Diame’s boot and spun into the Brighton net, for possibly the biggest freak goal of the season.
The winner came in the 89th minute, when Atsu found space in the Brighton box and picked out Ayoze Perez, who held his position 12 yards from goal to poke the ball into the left hand side of the net and snatch all three points.
The victory moves Newcastle two clear at the top of the league and eight clear of third placed Huddersfield but Rafa Benitez’s must guard against complacency, as they still have work to do in order to secure an immediate return to the big time.
The loss is equally not a huge blow for Brighton’s hopes of finally escaping the Championship. The lead at the top has already changed hands between the two sides 16 times this season and the Seagulls are still six points clear of Huddersfield, who do have a game in hand.
Huddersfield Town were due to be in action against Wolves but the game was postponed due to their FA Cup fifth round replay with Manchester City at the Etihad on Wednesday night.
Aston Villa had not won a single game in 2017 before their victory over Derby at the weekend but seem to have found their stride, beating Bristol City 2-0 at Villa Park. Former City man Jonathan Kodjia blasted a penalty over the bar in the first-half before scoring against his old team in the second.
January signing Conor Hourihane added a second as Villa kept their hosts out to earn their first successive clean sheets in the league in two years. It was also only the third time all season that Villa have registered back-to-back wins, with their poor form meaning they are almost certainly set to spend another season in England’s second tier.
The result had bigger ramifications for City due to Blackburn Rovers’ victory over Derby. A penalty from Craig Conway gave new Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray his first home win and moved his side level on points with City. Lee Johnson’s side are now only above the relegation on goal difference, having only tasted victory once in their last ten matches.
The defeat at Ewood Park was Derby’s second in four days, capping a run of six games without a win, which now leaves them ten points outside the play-offs and unlikely to be realistic contenders for promotion.
Aston Villa 2-0 Bristol City
Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Derby County
Brighton 1-2 Newcastle United
Wolverhampton Wanderers P-P Huddersfield Town (Fixture Clash)
By Alex Knight