- Albion 3, Newcastle United 0
On International Happiness Day, Albion gave their fans reasons to smile as they opened-up a six-point gap above the relegation zone with an outstanding win over Newcastle.
Welbeck struck just after Ryan Fraser hit the post for Newcastle, but it was a rare moment of alarm for Albion who were utterly dominant. Only the agility of Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka prevented the hosts from winning more comfortably.
After two substitute cameos totalling 11 minutes, Polish midfielder Jakub Moder made his first Premier League start on the left of a four-man midfield with Albion employing three at the back.
And Moder could easily have scored twice in the opening three minutes as Albion started strongly. Ben White ran from deep in his own half to find Maupay. His right-wing cross found Moder in space but he volleyed well over. In Albion's next attack Welbeck's lovely pass with the outside of his foot found Moder whose drive forced Martin Dubravka to make a smart low save to his left. The Newcastle keeper was tested again in the 11th minute from Yves Bissouma's daisy-cutter.
It set the tone for the rest of the first half as Albion dominated possession as the movement of their three attackers – with Welbeck on the left, Maupay on the right and Trossard coming centrally from deep – caused Newcastle problems.
Newcastle barely got into the final third in the first half as Albion bossed possession and tried to pick their way through the black and white-shirted ranks. They threatened again when Trossard and Gross worked a good combination down the right in the 38th minute and the Belgian’s pull-back found Maupay six yards out. His shot was struck crisply but was blocked by Ciaran Clark.
Newcastle suffered a blow just before the break when Isaac Hayden was stretchered off after contesting a 50-50 with Bissouma and it got worse for the visitors when play resumed as Albion got the goal they deserved. Joel Veltman's long ball found Trossard on the corner of the box. He still had a lot to do but cut back to make space to sweep a low right-foot shot past the helpless Dubravka and into the far corner for his fourth of the season.
Apart from one corner, Newcastle hadn't threatened in the first half but they were the width of the post from equalising in the 50th minute. Joelinton and Miguel Almiron created space for Ryan Fraser on the left and his curling effort beat Sanchez but struck the far post.
It was the warning Albion needed and they doubled their lead with another superb finish in the 51st minute. Welbeck collected Gross' long cross-field ball on the left, cut inside and then hammered a right-foot shot from 20 yards past Dubravka. Like Trossard's, it was a strike of high quality, and his third goal of the campaign.
Albion hunted a third and Dubravka was called upon to hold a shot from Moder, who had broken at pace into the box before Paul Dummett was booked for a late challenge on Gross.
Albion made the game safe in the 68th minute with a goal that was every bit as good as the first two. Welbeck set things going by winning possession in a central position before finding Gross on the right. The German's cross was met on the volley by Maupay and the ball flew into the bottom left-hand corner – a wonderful way for the Frenchman to score his first goal since his winner at Leeds in January.
Job done for Graham Potter's side, the only question being whether they could embellish the scoreline. Gross nearly got on the scoresheet but Lascelles brilliantly blocked his right-foot shot before Dubravka denied Welbeck, who was replaced by Andi Zeqiri moments later.
There were no more goals but no matter. When the pressure was on Albion had well and truly delivered.
Leo Trossard's goal came at the perfect time for Albion, who had dominated the first half. Newcastle have won just two of their last 94 Premier League away games when losing at half-time (D11 L81), and both of those came against Spurs. When Welbeck doubled Albion's money there was no way back for Steve Bruce's team.
Thinking outside the box
It was the first time Albion have scored two goals from outside the box in a Premier League game. The last time they did that in a league game was against QPR in the 2017 promotion season.
Since both teams won promotion in 2017, Albion have been unbeaten against Newcastle in eight meetings. And the last three times that Brighton have had a two-goal lead in the top-flight have been in 2019, 2020 and 2021 - and two of those games were against Newcastle.
Albion: Sanchez, Veltman, White, Dunk, Moder (Propper 88), Gross, Bissouma, Lallana, Trossard (Mac Allister 78), Welbeck (Zeqiri 84), Maupay.
Unused subs: Steele, Jahanbakhsh, Alzate, Izquierdo, Tau, Burn.