Brighton & Hove Albion defender Lewis Dunk believes the team rose to the challenge in Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Crystal Palace, and showed excellent concentration to secure their first-ever Premier League double over the Eagles.
The 27-year-old laid on Glenn Murray’s opener at Selhurst Park, before enjoying the celebrations in front of Albion’s travelling supporters after the full-time whistle.
The Seagulls moved level on points with their rivals, but remained five points clear of the relegation zone after the 3pm kick-offs concluded — and Dunk reflected on the pressure his team-mates had to contend with.
He said, “You’ve got to thrive under the pressure that’s put on top of you. If you can’t do that, then you shouldn’t be a footballer.
“If you crumble, then you’re going to lose and not perform well. But like we showed against Palace, we all thrived under the pressure from their fans.”
“When you’ve got 20-odd thousand singing, you hear it. But you’ve got to ignore it, block it out and focus on your own game.
“If you’re worried about that, you’re not worried about the striker and he might get in-behind you, so you’ve just got to concentrate on the game and make sure you do your job.”
Anthony Knockaert’s superb goal won the contest after Luka Milivojevic had levelled for the hosts, and Dunk applauded the Frenchman after speaking about his personal satisfaction.
“You saw what it meant to me at the end, that’s all I need to say. It’s part and parcel of football — I’m a local boy and they’re the rival club, so it was nice to celebrate on the pitch at the end.
“I just enjoy the goals, no matter who scores them. Anthony’s goal was pretty special and you could see what it meant to us all.
“He stood up and whipped the ball into the top corner — he couldn't have placed it any better, so all credit to him for doing that.”
Albion will take confidence from their back-to-back victories ahead of their Emirates FA Cup quarter-final at Millwall next weekend, and Dunk was quick to switch his attention to the chance of reaching the final four at Wembley next month.
“That’s our focus now — we’ve got the FA Cup and then the international break. After that, we can prepare for another Premier League game, but for now our focus is on the FA Cup.
“We can do something special, get to an FA semi-final at Wembley and you never know what can happen.
“If we can beat Millwall, we’ll then see what the draw is and go again. You never know, we could get to the final like we did once before.”