- 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.