‘Surprise’ Seb is the master
BRIGHTON winning on Friday night shouldn’t have come as a shock as they set their sights on the Premier League. However, manager Chris Hughton admits their match-winner did come out of the blue.
After a goalless first half, Glenn Murray broke the deadlock just before the hour mark as he sprung the offside trap and beat Alex Smithies one-on-one.
And six minutes later Brighton were two up as Sebastien Pocognoli superbly fired home a free-kick, before QPR halved the deficit with a Matt Smith header.
Murray’s strike was his 21st of the season and it was no shock to see him on the scoresheet, but Hughton conceded that Pocognoli’s spectacular winner – his first goal since 2011 – was very much a surprise.
“I thought Anthony Knockaert was going to take the free-kick, only because Seb (Pocognoli) hasn’t featured as much as the others,” sad Hughton.
“On a lot of the work we’ve done with free-kicks, it’s usually been Jiri Skalak or Anthony on them.
“It was a bit of a surprise, but it was a real quality finish, and certainly no blame can be given to the goalkeeper. When it’s that clear in the corner and comes off the crossbar, I don’t think anybody’s saving it.
“For Murray’s goal, I couldn’t see the angle well from where I was, and sometimes with that sort of finish, when you’re oneon-one, you’re better off being at an angle, but it was reasonably straight.
“It’s a very good finish because he’s one-on-one with the keeper, and probably on more occasions than not, when it’s a fairly straight angle, the keeper gets a touch to it.
“He’s a player that, over the years, has been used to being in positions like that, and that certainly helps. It was one that lifted any kind of anxiety that we had, because QPR were always a threat.”
Brighton hadn’t won at Loftus Road in almost 60 years and they had few chances to change all that in a quiet first half, even though Murray and Tomer Hemed saw goals chalked out for offside.
But on 58 minutes the two linked up to open the scoring, Hemed’s through-ball releasing striker Murray who made no mistake.
Left-back Pocognoli then took centre stage, firing home a 64thminute free-kick off the underside of the bar.
QPR got themselves back in the game with 15 minutes to play as striker Smith flicked in a header at the near post following a corner. But they couldn’t find a leveller, Brighton goalkeeper David Stockdale having to be alert to prevent his teammate Steve Sidwell accidentally diverting a Ryan Manning cross into his own net.
The win was Brighton’s fifth in their last six games and QPR manager Ian Holloway was left cursing Murray after he scored the opener and won the freekick that allowed Pocognoli to fire home the winner.
“You don’t let Glenn Murray run that far towards your goal,” said Holloway, who managed Murray at Crystal Palace.
“You run back with him. With the greatest respect he isn’t the quickest but he is determined.
“It wasn’t offside. We took a risk.
“When he was through, I’ve seen it over and over again and it almost made me sick – but a great finish!”
POC ‘N’ ROLL: Sebastien Pocognoli curls in a superb free-kick for Brighton’s second goal