- Three changes for Palace, as Doucouré returns from suspension and Edouard starts
- Academy graduate Whitworth becomes Palace’s youngest Premier League ‘keeper at 19 years and 15 days-old
- Palace dominate early proceedings
- Zaha, Edouard and Olise all go close in the opening 10 minutes
- March punishes profligacy with arrowed opener for Brighton moments later
- Doucouré tackle denies Welbeck from close range
- Eagles fight back as Andersen volleys free-kick just wide
- HT: Brighton 1-0 Palace
- Whitworth denies Estupinan with excellent low block with his feet
- Schlupp shoots narrowly wide from distance
- Whitworth then keeps out Mac Allister's powerful header
- Eagles mount late pressure but Brighton hold firm
- Mac Allister shoots narrowly wide at the other end
- Ahamada miscues finish deep into injury time
- FT: Brighton 1-0 Palace
With 19-year-old goalkeeper Joe Whitworth between the posts – his senior Palace debut making him the club’s youngest-ever Premier League goalkeeper – Palace made three changes, with Doucouré and Edouard restored to the starting line-up.
Patrick Vieira had declared before the match that his players would play “with a lot of determination and enthusiasm” – and a dominant start for Palace featured plenty of both.
Wilfried Zaha, seeking to score in three consecutive appearances against the Seagulls, was Palace’s first player to go close. With just 45 seconds on the clock, the No. 11 collected a long ball forwards from Tyrick Mitchell and drove towards Lewis Dunk. Skipping towards the byline, his rising effort towards the near post was palmed behind by Jason Steele.
It was a sign of things to come. Just minutes later, Palace worked a set-piece well towards Nathaniel Clyne, whose curling cross found Edouard in space in the centre of the box. The Frenchman made good contact with his header – too much, in fact, as his effort glanced wide of the far post.
The chances kept on coming. Michael Olise made a clever diagonal run in behind the Brighton defence and was found superbly by Joachim Andersen. With just Steele to beat, Olise aimed low across goal with his strike, but saw it kicked away by the onrushing ‘keeper.
That all of the above happened inside the opening 10 minutes speaks volumes about the magnitude of Palace’s early dominance – but, as has so often proven the case in recent weeks, profligacy would prove costly.
With their first real attack of the match, Solly March timed his run in-between Palace’s centre-backs and, running away from goal, dug out an arrowed finish across goal which the sprawling Whitworth could do little to prevent finding the bottom corner.
The breakthrough granted the hosts renewed confidence and forced Palace to ride out a storm, with one particularly fine sliding tackle from Doucouré preventing Danny Welbeck from doubling Brighton’s advantage.
But as the half wore on, Palace began to fight back, and they could have gone in level had Andersen’s side-footed volley – having been found at the back post by Olise’s delivery from deep – not whistled right the way across Steele’s goalmouth.
With Doucouré perhaps fortunate to avoid a second yellow card on the stroke of half-time, Ebere Eze was introduced in his place at the break by Vieira, with Schlupp dropping back into midfield.
This time, it was Brighton who made the brighter start to proceedings, the hosts creating an overload on the left flank which led to Estupinan firing a low shot across goal, blocked superbly with his feet by Whitworth.
That brighter start duly faded completely when a sudden power cut caused a momentary halt in play – as well as a chanting competition between the two rival sets of supporters.
When play did eventually resume, aware that the attacking onus was now on Palace, the hosts played a more patient game on the ball in the second-half, forcing the Eagles to press higher up the pitch.
That approach almost paid dividends for Palace when Eze was able to square for Schlupp to shoot low from 25 yards, but his crisp low strike whistled narrowly wide of the bottom-right corner.
With Vieira making attacking changes, more space began to open up for the hosts as the half wore on, forcing Whitworth to be on his toes.
The 19-year-old rose to the challenge to deny a powerful near-post header from Alexis Mac Allister midway through the half, with the Argentine midfielder also finding the side-netting with a low effort the teenager appeared to have covered.
As the hosts ran down the clock, there was to be one final Palace opportunity. With Brighton getting it wrong while playing out from the back, Ebere Eze was able to poke the ball towards fellow substitute Naouirou Ahamada.
The Frenchman was on his less-favoured right-foot and, with only milliseconds to consider his options on the edge of the box, pulled a harmless finish wide of the post.
A prominent example of a game unfortunately lost in the minor moments by Palace, whose electric start and competitive display arguably warranted more on the south coast.
Palace: Whitworth (GK), Clyne, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell, Doucouré (Eze 45), Lokonga, Schlupp (Ahamada 80), Olise (Ayew 70), Zaha, Edouard (Mateta 80)
Subs: Goodman (GK), Ward, Tomkins, Richards, Milivojevic
Brighton: Steele (GK), Veltman, Dunk, Colwill, Estupiñan, Caicedo, Mac Allister (Sarmiento 88), March (Webster 90), Groß, Mitoma (Enciso 80), Welbeck (Ferguson 80)
Subs: Sanchez (GK), Undav, Gilmour, van Hecke, Buonanotte