Fulham 2-1 Brighton: Aleksandar Mitrovic on target as Seagulls’ unbeaten start ends

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Marco Silva hailed an “unbelievable performance” from Aleksandar Mitrovic after his fifth goal of the season helped Fulham end Brighton’s unbeaten start to the campaign with a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage.

Mitrovic ghosted in at the back post to break the deadlock three minutes into the second half with his 100th league goal for Fulham, and a second swiftly followed for Marco Silva’s side when Lewis Dunk put through his own net (55).

Brighton, who could have gone top of the Premier League for the first time with a victory, pulled one back against the run of play on the hour through Alexis Mac Allister’s well-taken penalty after VAR penalised Bobby De Cordova-Reid for a foul on Pervis Estupinan.

But, despite a late, substitute-inspired rally, Brighton’s comeback failed to materialise as Fulham saw out a deserved victory which lifted them into the top six on eight points, two behind Brighton, who remain in fourth.

Player ratings

Fulham: Leno (6), Tete (6), Adarabioyo (7), Ream (6), Robinson (6), Palhinha (6), Reed (6), Pereira (7), De Cordova-Reid (5), Kebano (7), Mitrovic (8).

Subs: Cairney (5), Chalobah (n/a).

Brighton: Sanchez (5), Veltman (4), Dunk (4), Webster (5), Estupinan (5), March (5), Mwepu (5), Mac Allister (6), Caicedo (5), Trossard (5), Gross (5).

Subs: Lamptey (5), Welbeck (5), Mitoma (6), Undav (5).

Man of the match: Aleksandar Mitrovic

Fabulous Fulham end Brighton’s unbeaten start

Brighton started the night knowing a victory would take them top of the English top flight for the first time but were prevented from scaling those heights by the side who finished top of last season’s Championship.

Fulham’s fluid attack, spearheaded by impressive performances from Mitrovic, Neeskens Kebano and Andreas Pereira, didn’t give Brighton a moment’s rest, and the hosts nearly made a deserved eighth-minute breakthrough when Joao Palhinha’s flick from a corner forced Robert Sanchez into action.

Team news

  • Fulham were unchanged from Saturday’s late defeat at Arsenal.
  • Enock Mwepu replaced Danny Welbeck in Brighton’s only change from the 1-0 victory over Leeds.

Brighton boss Graham Potter was forced to switch to a back three in a bid to wrestle back the initiative from Fulham, but the hosts remained a threat, with Mitrovic capitalising on poor defending from Adam Webster and Joel Veltman before scuffing a shot into the gloves of Sanchez.

The tactical change from Potter took time to bear fruit, Pascal Gross’ deflected 29th-minute shot was the visitors’ first on target, but Brighton gradually dampened the Fulham fire, and they should have taken the lead when Solly March headed the best chance of the first period wide seven minutes before the break.

Fulham got the start they were craving in the first half at the beginning of the second, with Mitrovic arriving late at the back post to turn home Kebano’s cross. And the second came seven minutes later when Dunk turned the ball into the Brighton net while desperately trying to cut out Pereira’s cross.

Image: Alexis Mac Allister celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot

Brighton halved the deficit almost immediately when a VAR review spotted De Cordova-Reid’s trip on Estupinan, and Mac Allister clinically dispatched the spot-kick from 12 yards, but Fulham managed the closing stages superbly to clinch a deserved second win of the season.

Fulham flying high – Opta stats

  • Fulham have won eight or more points from their first five Premier League games of a season for the first time since 2012-13 (9).
  • Brighton suffered their first Premier League defeat in 10 games, having won six of their previous nine (D3). Indeed, the Seagulls conceded 2+ goals in a league game for the first time in nine matches.
  • Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Lewis Dunk has scored more own goals in the Premier League than any other player (6) – only Richard Dunne (10), Martin Skrtel (7), Phil Jagielka (7) and Jamie Carragher (7) have scored more OGs in PL history than Dunk (6).

Silva hails ‘unbelievable’ Mitrovic

Fulham manager Marco Silva: “Mitrovic has been unbelievable. Not just because of the goals he scores. We are seeing a lot more things from him than goals. He is not just a goalscorer for us. This evening he was unbelievable. He helped the right-back, he helped the left-back. He is showing a great, great spirit.

“Of course, when we have the ball, we have to deliver for him and get the best from him. We know where he is really strong and where he is difficult to control and we have to keep creating for him because I am sure he will keep scoring. The other part he is improving is in our defensive process. He deserves all the praise.”

Potter: No excuses for below-par Brighton

Brighton manager Graham Potter: “We were below par, Fulham played well and deserved to win. We weren’t quite as good as we can be, and when you play like that in the Premier League it can be tough.

“Fulham started better than us in the first half. We grew into the game, we knew we could play better, but credit to the opponent. We got off to a bad start in the second half, Fulham deserved the win and weren’t as good as we can be.”

Man of the Match – Aleksandar Mitrovic

Image: Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates after scoring Fulham’s opening goal against Brighton

Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored more Premier League goals versus Brighton than he has against any other side (4). In fact, his opener tonight was the 100th league goal of his Fulham career.

What’s next?

Fulham travel to Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm, before Brighton host Leicester on Sunday at 2pm.

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