- Cagey start as both sides restricted to efforts from distance.
- Jean-Philippe Mateta scores his first Palace goal with a sumptuous finish.
- Brighton see more of the ball without threatening Vicente Guaita’s goal.
- HT: Brighton 0-1 Palace
- Danny Welbeck goes close just minutes after coming on as a substitute.
- Joel Veltman equalises with a powerful finish off the woodwork.
- Adam Lallana finds space after coming on but twice fires over the crossbar.
- Benteke stunner wins it for Palace in the final minute of added time.
- FT: Brighton 1-2 Palace
Palace secured a famous victory at The Amex in the sweetest of circumstances, as Christian Benteke scored with almost the last kick of the game to sink Brighton and steal all three points.
The goal was met by scenes of jubilation from teammates and coaches alike, their joy echoing around the empty stadium but evoking the cacophany that would have exploded from the travelling fans had they been present, and surely erupted in many living rooms across south London and around the world.
The match got off to a cagey start, as both sides felt their way into the game. Yves Bissouma registered the first shot on target. Striking speculatively from distance but far too high to trouble Vicente Guaita.
Brighton were seeing more of the ball, and Joel Veltman’s low cross flashed across the face of goal without a player in blue able to get the crucial touch.
Palace were beginning to find space on the counter attack, and looked to be away when Luka Milivojevic won the ball high up the field, but his pass couldn’t find Andros Townsend who was sprinting to get in behind.
Soon, their persistence paid off. Working hard to find space on the right-hand side, Jordan Ayew’s pace took him past the defender, allowing him to drive a low cross towards the six-yard-box.
The ball was just behind Jean-Philippe Mateta, who had beaten his marker to the near post. The Frenchman showed delightful invention to pirouette and back-heel the ball past Robert Sanchez in the Brighton goal.
It was a stunning piece of creativity and an emphatic way for Mateta to register his first goal in Palace colours, since arriving from German side Mainz in January.
The hosts continued to dominate the ball as the half wore on, but without any end product to threaten Guaita in the Palace goal.
Brighton introduced Danny Welbeck at the break, and he almost had an impact straight away. With the ball ricocheting around the box, the former-England man stuck out a leg to guide it goalwards, but saw the ball drift wide.
The equaliser came soon after, and there was a sense of misfortune for Palace as a loose ball was deflected into the path of Joel Veltman at the edge of the box. The defender’s finish was clinical, clipping the inside of the post to leave Guaita helpless.
It could have been two moments later. Dan Burn’s cross was flicked on by Maupay to Leandro Trossard at the back post, who seemed destined to slot the ball home, but Guaita stood tall to block the shot.
There was an element of pinball about what followed, as some brave defending saw subsequent efforts blocked, before the ball was cleared.
Burn’s delivery was causing problems, finding the replacement Adam Lallana, but he couldn’t guide his shot on target from close range. He had a second chance from the edge of the box, but once again his shot was over the crossbar.
As the minutes ebbed away Brighton’s passing became less precise, as they looked to find the winner; Palace had efforts to break forward through Eze, but were thwarted.
Gary Cahill was constantly alert to marshal the Eagles’ backline, and his block in the final few minutes kept the scores level when Alireza Jahanbakhsh found space for a shot.
Then, with seconds left of the five minutes additional time, Townsend found space on the left-hand side to fire a cross in towards Christian Benteke. The Belgian watched the ball come down and unleashed the sweetest of volleys into the bottom corner, to spark wild celebrations from those in all white.
The goal was all but the final action in what will go down as a famous Palace victory, lit up by two special goals from a Palace side that refused to be beaten.
Brighton: Sanchez (GK), White, Dunk, Bissouma, Maupay, Mac Allister (Lallana, 68), Trossard, Gross (Jahanbakhsh, 81), Alzate (Welbeck, HT), Burn, Veltman.
Subs: Steele (GK), Connolly, Moder, Tau, Propper, Zeqiri.
Palace: Guaita (GK), Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, Mitchell, Townsend, Milivojevic, Riedewald, Eze (McCarthy, 90+1), Mateta (Benteke, 75), Ayew.
Subs: Butland (GK), van Aanholt, Dann, Clyne, Batshuayi, Kelly.