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22 October 2018 Venue The Amex Elite Football Performance Centre Attendance

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Match Previews

U23 PREVIEW: ALBION V BENFICA

22 October 2018

Linton Rogers
Albion host Benfica in the Premier League International Cup.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s play their second group game in the Premier League International Cup this evening, as they welcome European giants Benfica to the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, kick-off 7pm.

The Seagulls drew 2-2 with Everton in their opening match last month, and Simon Rusk’s side will now play the first of two matches against foreign clubs, with Bayern Munich visiting in January.

Tonight’s opponents also kicked off their schedule against the Toffees, but the Portuguese outfit were defeated 2-0 and will be looking to get off the mark with an improved display against Albion.

Rusk’s team head into the game on the back of a positive result in the Premier League 2 Division 1 — Ben Barclay’s 89th-minute header sealed maximum points against Blackburn Rovers in a 2-1 victory.

Aaron Connolly was also on the scoresheet for the Seagulls, as he headed home an equaliser at the Amex Stadium, which took the Irishman to eight goals in 11 appearances this season.

Benfica have competed in the Premier League International Cup every season since its introduction in 2014/15 — however the Eagles have only managed to progress from the group stage on one occasion.

The visitors arrive on the south coast with an unbeaten record across their previous four league matches, however their mosts recent results have been back-to-back 2-2 draws which came after their defeat to Everton.

Albion supporters can follow a live text blog from tonight’s game on the Match Centre, with a report and gallery being uploaded after the full-time whistle.

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Match Reports

U23 REPORT: ALBION 2 BENFICA 0

22 October 2018

Paul Hazlewood
Viktor Gyokeres opens the scoring from the penalty spot.
  • Albion seal a 2-0 victory over Benfica
  • Viktor Gyokeres opens the scoring from the penalty spot
  • Aaron Connolly fires home to double Albion’s lead
  • The Seagulls play Bayern Munich in their final group game

Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s delivered a composed performance to clinch their first victory in the Premier League International Cup, as they beat Benfica 2-0 at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.

The Seagulls defended excellently and regularly worked on the break, with Viktor Gyokeres breaking the deadlock from the penalty spot, before Aaron Connolly fired his ninth goal of the season.

Simon Rusk included first-team defender Bernardo in the starting line-up, while Max Sanders returned in the middle of a five-man midfield.

After Jose Gomes fired wide for the visitors inside the opening minutes, Connolly met a Jordan Davies cross with a glancing header towards the bottom corner, which Fabio Duarte got down to save.

Rusk’s side made a positive start and were presented with a fine chance to open the scoring when David Zec clipped Mathias Normann inside the box — Gyokeres confidently converted from 12 yards to give Albion the lead.

Ben Barclay then threw himself in front of a fierce shot from Keaton Parks to make an important block, before Hugo Keto leaped across his goal to tip another effort around the post.

But defence quickly turned into attack and Albion doubled their lead through Connolly, as the Irishman latched onto Ben White’s searching pass, cut inside his marker and bent the ball into the bottom corner.

Anders Dreyer was next to try his luck for the Seagulls, but the Dane’s ferocious effort from a tight angle was parried away from goal by Duarte at his near post.

After the teams regrouped at half-time, Albion returned for the second half and continued to work on the break, as Connolly caused havoc in amongst Benfica’s hesitant backline.

Dreyer picked out the 18-year-old forward from the left wing, and after controlling the ball inside the penalty area, Connolly drilled a low effort just wide of the bottom corner.

Another searching pass then released Connolly down the centre of the field, and with two Benfica defenders in his path, he shifted the ball onto his right foot and fired narrowly wide from 20 yards.

The Seagulls almost notched a third goal when Sanders swung a free kick towards goal from the corner of the penalty area, but his effort clipped the top of the crossbar.

Gyokeres tested Duarte with an ambitious effort in the closing stages, and despite some late pressure from the visitors, Albion comfortably saw out the remainder to claim three points.

ALBION: Keto; White, Barclay, Ostigard, Bernardo; Gyokeres, Normann, Sanders, J.Davies, Dreyer (Cox 73); Connolly (Longman 90+1).

Subs not used: Collings (GK), O’Hora, Moore, Gwargis, Ljubicic.

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