- Albion are beaten 2-1 by Chelsea
- Pedro and Eden Hazard on target for the visitors
- Solly March scores for Albion
- The Seagulls face AFC Bournemouth on Saturday
Brighton & Hove Albion succumbed to a narrow 2-1 defeat against Chelsea at the Amex Stadium.
Two first-half goals from Pedro and Eden Hazard put the visitors 2-0 up, before Solly March halved the deficit after the break, and despite late pressure from the Seagulls, they ran out of time for an equaliser.
Chris Hughton made three changes to the side that lost to Burnley last week, with Martin Montoya, Dale Stephens and Glenn Murray all taking their places in the starting line-up.
Chelsea had a chance inside the opening five minutes when Hazard was clipped on the edge of the box, but David Luiz’s resulting set-piece went straight at Maty Ryan.
Albion tested the Chelsea backline for the first time when Murray teed up March inside the box, only for the latter’s effort to be deflected behind for a corner.
Hazard engineered the Blues’ next opportunity after his deft touch set up Marcos Alonso, whose attempt was blocked, before Willian was brought down by Anthony Knockaert, and the wall did its job to thwart the Brazilian.
But the deadlock was broken with 17 minutes played courtesy of Pedro, who latched onto Hazard’s cut back across goal and slotted the ball in from close range.
Down the other end, March was quick to react to Mateo Kovacic’s slack pass across goal and took aim from distance, but his low strike was comfortably saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Hazard got his name on the scoresheet with 33 minutes played after Willian intercepted Leon Balogun’s pass and played the Belgian through on goal, and he produced a clinical finish past Ryan.
It was nearly 3-0 as Antonio Rudiger rose highest from Willian’s corner, but his header went inches past Ryan’s left-hand post.
The visitors created another opening shortly after the re-start when Cesar Azpilicueta sent a ball across the face of goal that was missed by both Hazard and Willian, before Pedro fired an acrobatic effort over the bar.
Hughton freshened up his attack with the introduction of Florin Andone in place of Glenn Murray, but it was Chelsea that had another opportunity to net a third, after Alonso’s fierce strike cannoned off the post with Ryan at full stretch.
But Albion had a lifeline in the 66th minute courtesy of March, after Bernardo headed Pascal Gross's cross back across the face of goal and the winger’s first-time left-footed strike halved the deficit.
Yves Bissouma and Jurgen Locadia were introduced in the final ten minutes, as Hughton’s men pushed for a point.
The Seagulls had a chance late on to level the scores as Lewis Dunk met March's inswinging cross in stoppage time, but his downward header went wide and Chelsea claimed a narrow win.
ALBION: Ryan; Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo; Knockaert (Locadia 83), Stephens, Propper, March; Gross (Bissouma 82); Murray (Andone 63).
SUBS NOT USED: Steele (GK), Bruno, Bong, Kayal.
1901 CLUB LOTTERY
1ST PRIZE £1000 188531
2ND PRIZE 189002
3RD PRIZE 189311
4TH PRIZE 186523
5TH PRIZE 186615
ALBION HAT TRICK
1ST £500 2262
2ND £50 3977
3RD £25 4635
1ST GOAL TIME 17 MINS