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Brighton’s Glenn Murray fires winner to end West Ham’s resurgence
Ed Aarons at the Amex Stadium
Date Published Fri 5 Oct 2018 21.57 BST
West Ham supporters must be sick of the sight of Glenn Murray. The veteran striker has now found the net six times against them in the Premier League and took his tally for the calendar year to 12 as Brighton secured their fourth top-flight victory at home over the east London side in as many attempts.
Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are the only English players to outscore the 35-year-old in 2018 and there is no doubting his value to Brighton, with Chris Hughton’s side not having won since beating Manchester United in their second match of the season. But even though Marko Arnautovic wasted a great chance to snatch a point at the death following Murray’s 25th-minute effort – his 99th in total for the club – it was a relatively comfortable night for a team who had looked in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle before the match.
“It’s what he does best,” Hughton acknowledged of Murray. “Glenn has always had the knack of being in the right place at the right time – he’s a player who has looked after himself really well and that enables him not only to get the goals but to have an impact in the game.”
Asked if Murray should be considered for an England call-up, Hughton added: “All I can speak about is what Glenn gives us. For somebody at this stage of the season to have scored five goals in the Premier League for this club is a big achievement.”
Brighton had previously failed to record a clean sheet this campaign – a statistic that would have troubled Hughton given last season’s success was built on defensive solidity. As if to underline his confidence in central defenders Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk, the news that they had both signed new five-year contracts was announced hours before kick-off, while the recall of the club captain, Bruno – now 38 – was also designed to strengthen a backline that has already conceded 13 goals this season.
Bruno, Duffy, Dunk and [Gaëtan] Bong may sound like a psychedelic 60s band but, as a defensive unit, have served Brighton well in gaining promotion and achieving 10 clean sheets last season. They were certainly expecting a test from a resurgent visiting side, with the attacking trio of Arnautovic, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko part of an unchanged side from last Saturday’s victory over Manchester United.
One unfamiliar name on the Brighton team sheet was Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who was handed his first Premier League start after his arrival for a club record £17m in the summer. The Iran forward showed some bright touches but struggled to make an impression in a congested midfield area in the opening exchanges, although Anthony Knockaert did manage to produce a shot on target in Brighton’s only real chance of note until Murray’s opener.
Yarmolenko was slow to react to pressure from Beram Kayal and the Israeli’s brilliant cross left Murray with a simple tap-in.
After losing their first four games of the season, West Ham had seemed to have found their feet under Manuel Pellegrini but lacked the intensity on display during the wins over Everton and United. Despite dominating possession in the second half, Arnautovic, who came into the game carrying a knee injury, was the only real attacking threat of note and he sailed close to the wind after arguing with referee Kevin Friend over his booking for a studs-up challenge on Kayal.
It was the Austrian’s prompting that saw Fabián Balbuena’s effort deflected wide for a corner, only for the defender to then waste a golden chance having freed himself from the attentions of Murray at the back post.
Brighton’s talisman will have been disappointed not to have hit the target with a free header 20 minutes from time, while another effort looped agonisingly over Lucasz Fabianksi’s bar. He did put the ball in the net in stoppage time but saw his effort correctly ruled out for offside, with Arnautovic then blasting over from close range on an evening that Pellegrini will want to forget.
“It was frustrating because we knew we were playing a difficult team who are very strong at home but we created three good chances to draw so I cannot be happy,” he said.
“Maybe in the first 45 minutes they played with more intensity but in the second half we had the pace and played some good football. But you have to score.”
MATCH FACTS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Brighton: Ryan; Saltor, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Knockaert, Propper (Bissouma 80), Kayal, March (Locadia 85); Jahanbakhsh (Izquierdo 70), Murray
Subs not used: Andone, Balogun, Button, Bernardo
Goals: Murray 25
Bookings: Duffy, Kayal, Jahanbakhsh
Manager: Chris Hughton
West Ham: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice; Yarmolenko (Perez 70), Noble (Snodgrass 83), Obiang (Antonio 60), Felipe Anderson; Arnautovic
Subs not used: Cresswell, Adrian, Ogbonna, Fredericks
Bookings: Arnautovic, Snodgrass
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
Referee: Kevin Friend