Brighton hold on to claim precious point at Wolves
Premier League, Molineux - Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
Brighton & Hove Albion held on to secure a hard-fought draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers that leaves them with a three-point advantage over Cardiff in the battle to avoid the drop.
The Seagulls, coming off a four-game losing streak, were under the cosh for large swathes of the match, conceding territory, possession and the initiative against Nuno Espírito Santo’s side.
However, Chris Hughton’s men dug in, allowing only four of Wolves’ 21 shots to trouble Mathew Ryan’s goal, who was equal to them on each occasion.
The opening 45 minutes was largely forgetful with Wolves dominating possession but offering little in terms of attacking threat. In fact, despite having close to 70 per cent of the ball, the hosts were unable to register a single shot on target.
Struggling to break down a rigid Brighton back-six, Wolves' best chance of the first half came in stoppage-time when Diogo Jota's unorthodox volley cannoned off the crossbar. Wolves also had a strong case for a penalty waved away by referee Craig Pawson who adjudged Pascal Gross got enough on the ball in his last-ditch challenge on Jota.
Brighton made a flying start to the second half, with Beram Kayal going close with a venomous shot from 30 yards, but they soon retreated and Wolves took control once more.
The hosts spurned a gilt-edged double-chance when Jota's header struck the post and substitute Leander Dendocker was denied at point-blank by Ryan with the follow-up, as Wolves failed to find a way past the stubborn visitors.
A priceless point for Brighton moves them three points ahead of 18th-placed Cardiff, with both teams having played 34 games. Neil Warnock's side play title-chasing Liverpool on Sunday. Meanwhile, Wolves remain eighth, a point behind Watford in seventh, as the battle for what could be the final European place heats up.
Mathew Ryan, Dale Stephens, Lewis Dunk and Gaetan Bong of Brighton and Hove Albion celebrates following their draw in the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brighton & Hove Albion at Molineux on April 20, 2019 in Wolverhampton, UniteGetty Images
Dogged Seagulls earn vital point: Brighton have been desperately poor defensively in recent weeks in what has been a dreadful run of four consecutive defeats, but with the growing pressure to preserve their Premier League status, Hughton's side finally showed some backbone and steel to earn what could be a crucial point in their battle against the drop. Only their second clean sheet on the road this season, Brighton's display was not pretty but they played for a draw from the start and each and every player stuck to their task admirably to hold out a Wolves side desperate to claim seventh place and what could be the last European place up for grabs.
With Newcastle, Arsenal and Man City still to come, Brighton face a very difficult challenge to survive, but if they can continue to display such fight in their remaining games they should have enough.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Matt Doherty (Wolves): In a game lacking in quality, Wolves' full-back Doherty stood out from the rest. He produced an energetic and tireless display at right-back. His crossing was on point and he fulfilled his defensive duties.
Brighton's Spanish midfielder Jose Izquierdo (back) fouls Wolverhampton Wanderers' Irish defender Matt Doherty (front) during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brighton and Hove Albion at the Molineux stadium inGetty Images
Brighton: Ryan 8, Bruno 5, Bong 7, Duffy 7, Dunk 6, Stephens 5, Propper N/A, March 6, Gross 7, Izquierdo 5, Murray 5. Subs: Bernardo 5, Kayal 6.
23' - NO PENALTY! Gross with a last-ditch tackle on Jota prompts strong appeals for a Wolves penalty, but there's nothing doing from the referee.
33' - JUST WIDE! Best opening of the game so far. Jota drives at the Brighton defence, creates a pocket of space to have a shot from the edge of the box, but drags his right-footed effort just wide of Ryan's goal.
45'+1 - OFF THE CROSSBAR! Neves has a shot from distance, it takes a wicked deflection and lands kindly for Jota whose half-volley loops up and cannons off the top of Ryan's bar!
54' - CLOSE! Brighton have started the second period well, and this is a terrific effort from Kayal. He isn't closed down and decides to have a crack at goal from 30 yards, he gets plenty of power in his shot and has Patricio worried, but it drifts just inches over his bar.
74' - OFF THE POST! How have Wolves not scored? Jimenez's cross is met by Jota whose cushioned-header hits the crossbar and then Ryan bravely saves Dendocker's point-blank effort from the follow-up.
- Brighton have yet to lose in eight top-flight meetins between the sides, keeping a clean sheet in the last seven.
- Only relegated sides Fulham and Huddersfield have accrued fewer points than Brighton's nine in 2019.
- Brighton have earned just three points from a possible 42 away to teams in the top half of the table (D3, L11).