Brighton put Newcastle United to the sword at St James Park
Newcastle United 0-3 Brighton
Newcastle United made the worst possible start to their home league campaign and to this match up with Brighton. A penalty conceded by Allan Saint-Maximin for a foul on the impressive Lamptey was converted by Maupay inside 5 minutes. And moments later he doubled his own tally after converting the simplest of crosses to give Bruce and his men a horror start.
A further goal in the final 10 minutes, this time from Connolly with a well taken finish were more than enough for the away side to take all three points from what was largely a shocking performance from Bruce's men, particularly in the first half where it looked like only one team was on the park.
The visitors dominated the contest from first whistle, looking bright, controlling play and with a clear and effective game plan having targeted United’s weaknesses from the off.
The only negative for Brighton a late red card for a flailing foot by Bissouma into the face of Jamal Lewis just before the end.
Bruce had reverted back to his two men up front philosophy, with Carroll and Wilson straight back into the fray having been rested for the Cup game against Blackburn in mid week.
Perhaps a little harsh on Almiron (with two assists in two games), Fraser and Clark (both finding their way back to match fitness), but having won their opening fixture away to West Ham it it seemed like the right call.
And it didn’t work. Carroll dropping deeper and deeper to try and link up play meaning Wilson was cutting a lonely figure up front. And with Brighton playing with three forwards and with their full-backs pushed on, the wide men of United were spending more time trying to cope with the visitors threat than doing anything in the opposite direction.
A change in formation and the introduction of Almiron for Carroll at the break would at least even things up a little in the second period but the damage was already done.
Even though the contest was a little more even in the second period Brighton still managed to add to their scoreline. Connolly finished another good move with Maupay this time the provider.
3-0 the final score and a great deal of head scratching to be done before a tough run of fixtures in the league including Spurs, Wolves and Everton as three of the next four.
See the United FactFile at the foot of this page for team and match information.
And United made the worst possible start. Saint-Maximin felling Lamptey, who’d been so impressive against Chelsea last week, inside the penalty area. Neal Maupay the man to step up and convert from the spot. Just 3 minutes on the clock.
And it was even worst 3 minutes later. A flag had initially ruled out a second goal for Maupay, but 2 mins of VAR checks later and the goal would be confirmed a good. 8 minutes on the clock and United already 2-0 down and having hardly touched the ball.
In truth, no one in a black and white shirt could have any complaints. At the time the first goal had gone in the visitors had enjoyed over 90% of possession. And it wasn’t much better by the time the second was scored.
Quite where the ‘front foot attacking’ brand of football that Bruce had promised a season ago was is anyones guess. Especially now he has his own players.
United looked particularly open down the right, with Saint-Maximin time after time letting Lamptey get free to deliver quality into the box.
In contrast, even when Newcastle did find a way to break forward, Callum Wilson looked an increasingly isolated figure in the Brighton half.
On the half hour ASM had to be removed after twisting his ankle earlier in the game, to be replaced by Ryan Fraser. And whilst Saint-Maximin was struggling with his defensive duties it felt like more than just a like for like change was required from Bruce.
In injury time in the first half Lamptey almost got himself on the scoresheet. Some good build up play resulting in the ex-Chelsea player firing hard and low with this shot well saved at his near post by Darlow.
A speculative long range effort from Shelvey would be the only mark in the ‘shots’ column for the home side in a half of football that would be best eradicated from memory as quickly as possible.
A change at half time, with the introduction of Miggy Almiron at least provided a little more control in midfield, with Hendrick moving into the middle of the park and Carroll removed from the action.
And the change certainly evened things up in terms of a context. United seeing more of the boll in so much as concerted and controlled aggressive play in the opening exchanges of the first half than at any point in the first.
A good ball from Almiron in the 52nd minute picked out Shelvey who will have been disappointed not to do better than slashing the ball wide.
There was a little more hope for Newcastle when the excellent Lamptey had to be withdrawn with an injury, with Burn entering the fray, forcing Brighton into a change in formation too and into a back 4.
United starting to look like they might just get a foothold in what was looking like a different game now…
And in the 63rd minutes it should have been 2-1. Good pressure from United ended with Almiron crossing to an unmarked Wilson who simply HAD to score from 6 yards out. The header, over the bar.
With 20 minutes left Brighton almost put the game to bed. A fantastic drive from distance from Trossard smashing Darlow’s right hand post with the keeper well and truly beaten.
They wouldn't have to wait long. Maupay this time the provider, feeding Connolly who did the rest with a lovely curling strike to Darlow's left hand side. Quite why Lascelles had backed off and left the striker so much room will be beyond
most watching on.
The only low point for the away side a red card at the end of the game for Yves Bissouma, who recklessly raised his boot face high and into Jamal Lewis. Despite initially producing a yellow card, the referee changed his decision to a red following review at the pitch side VAR monitor.
United thoroughly awful from start to finish.