Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Newcastle United 1: Seagulls creep towards survival
Brighton and Hove Albion moved four points clear of the Premier League relegation zone with two games to play as Pascal Gross secured a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
Cardiff City's damaging defeat to Fulham earlier in the day had given the Seagulls the chance to all but secure survival with a win. They had to make do with a point against Rafael Benitez's side, but nevertheless appear likely to have done enough to remain in the top flight.
The Magpies forged ahead when Ayoze Perez – who scored a hat-trick in last weekend's win over Southampton – thundered home in a first half that saw the hosts fail to register an attempt on goal.
Gross popped up 15 minutes from time, though, to seal what could prove to be a priceless point for Chris Hughton's side, who face Arsenal and Manchester City in their remaining two fixtures.
Far from being buoyed by news of Cardiff's defeat, Brighton started sluggishly and fell behind after 18 minutes. Paul Dummett's cross was chested into Perez's path 12 yards out by Salomon Rondon and the Spaniard made no mistake, lashing into the roof of the net for his fifth goal in three games.
He limped off 15 minutes later holding his hip but it did little to quell the visitors' attacking intent, Mat Ryan having to get down quickly to thwart Fabian Schar at the end of a swashbuckling run.
The hosts' shackles appeared to be loosened somewhat at the start of the second period and Shane Duffy came close on the hour mark, heading wide from a deep corner.
Their increasingly positive approach was rewarded after 75 minutes when Gross met Glenn Murray's headed pass to nod past a flailing Martin Dubravka.
Murray inexplicably headed over from three yards in stoppage time as Brighton ultimately fell short of finding a winner that would have effectively guaranteed their Premier League status for a third consecutive season, given Cardiff's vastly inferior goal difference.