- Albion beat OGC Nice in a behind-closed-doors friendly
- Viktor Gyokeres with the winner for Albion
- Florin Andone and Alireza Jahanbakhsh feature for the first time
- The Seagulls play their final pre-season friendly against FC Nantes on Friday
Brighton & Hove Albion recorded an impressive 1-0 win in the south of France, as they overcame OGC Nice thanks to Viktor Gyokeres’s second-half strike.
The Seagulls were particularly dominant in the second half, in what was the penultimate friendly for Albion, ahead of Friday’s final game against FC Nantes at the American Express Community Stadium.
Summer arrivals Florin Andone and Alireza Jahanbakhsh got their first taste of match action for the club in stifling conditions at Nice’s brand new training complex on the outskirts of the city on the Cote D’Azur.
Romanian international Andone, who has been absent due to a minor injury, partnered Tomer Hemed in attack, while Jahanbakhsh, who arrived last week after featuring for Iran at the World Cup, began on the left wing.
Solly March was the first to have a shot on goal inside the opening minutes of the game, but his volley from Jahanbakhsh’s cross was pushed behind for a corner by Yoan Cardinale.
There was little action of note ahead of a drinks break on 25 minutes, as both sides laboured in the heat, but afterwards Mickael Le Bihan tried his luck with a free kick from the edge of the box, which flashed wide.
Tempers flared between Ezequiel Schelotto and home left-back Racine Coly, after the Nice man went in late on the Albion full-back; the Argentine showed his displeasure at the tackle, before the referee quickly calmed the situation and both players shook hands.
Albion made seven changes at the break, as Andone and Jahanbakhsh departed, and began the half on the front foot, with Beram Kayal stinging the hands of Cardinale with a rasping drive from the edge of the box.
Gyokeres sprayed a fine cross-field pass to Murray on the left flank, and the Albion forward tried his luck from the corner of the box, with a low, near-post shot which Cardinale gathered at the second attempt.
Albion continued to dominate, as Gaetan Bong's dangerous cross was swept behind for a corner, and Leon Balogun saw his header from Markus Suttner’s corner nodded off the line by Patrick Burner.
A lovely move created a chance for Davy Propper, as Gyokeres crossed the ball for Murray, who laid it off to the Dutchman just inside the box, but replacement keeper Yannis Clementia was out smartly to block.
He also denied Suttner moments later, who tried his luck from distance, just prior to another water break in the 70th minute.
Albion broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, as Ben White started the move in his own half with a diagonal ball to Suttner on the left. The Austrian’s cross was flicked on by Murray, for Propper, who teed up Gyokeres to open the scoring from close range.
Mario Balotelli entered the action with 15 minutes left to play, but it was Anthony Knockaert who was next to go close, as he darted in from the right wing and saw his effort pushed away by Clementia.
David Button, on in place of Mat Ryan, was called into action late on, and he denied Bassem Srarfi and Eddy Syvestre in quick succession; before Murray fired in another low effort at the opposite end, which Clementia initially spilt but quickly recovered to claim the loose ball.
ALBION: Ryan (Button 45); Schelotto (White 45), Duffy (Propper 45), Balogun, Bong; March (Suttner 45), Kayal (Gross 75), Bissouma (Stephens 63), Jahanbakhsh (Bernardo 45); Andone (Murray 45), Hemed (Gyokeres 45 - replaced by Knockaert on 75).