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Fulham 4-2 Brighton: Cottagers fight back from two down to beat Brighton

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Fulham 4-2 Brighton: Claudio Ranieri praises Fulham's 'fighting spirit'

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri said his side are "alive" in the race to avoid relegation from the Premier League after the Cottagers staged a remarkable comeback from two goals down to claim a crucial victory over Brighton at Craven Cottage.

Ranieri's side had trailed 2-0 at the break, but Calum Chambers' superb strike gave them hope early in the second half before Aleksandar Mitrovic's brace put Fulham in front for the first time in the match.

Luciano Vietto headed home Fulham's fourth after Tom Cairney's long-range effort had cannoned off the crossbar.

"We can see a little light in front of us," said Ranieri.

"It is only a little step but we are alive. We showed very good fighting spirit."

Glenn Murray's first-half brace had given Brighton what appeared to be a comfortable lead inside the opening 20 minutes, the veteran striker slotting into the far corner from Martin Montoya's cross before turning home Pascal Gross's overhead flick-on.

"It was a very strange match," added Ranieri.

"We were 2-0 down after 17 minutes. At half-time, I gave confidence to my players and positivity - I told them we are in the match.

"The goal from Chambers was very important, it gave the players the opportunity to say 'we can do something good tonight'.

"We gave some good balls to Mitrovic. He is very dangerous with the crosses into the box.

"We deserved to win and played very good football."

The victory lifts 19th-placed Fulham to within six points of safety, while Brighton stay in 13th.

Brighton fail to cope with Mitrovic

Ranieri said before the match that this was the sort of fixture Fulham had to win to maintain realistic hopes of avoiding an immediate return to the second tier.

But the Cottagers could hardly have made a worse start to proceedings as Brighton brutally exposed the hosts' defensive frailties inside the opening 20 minutes.

Fulham had managed just one shot on target in the first 45 minutes, but Chambers' first goal for the Londoners - a tremendous strike into the corner from the edge of the penalty area - changed the course of the game.

Mitrovic, who had failed to score since his last-minute winner against Huddersfield on 29 December, was a constant thorn in Brighton's side after half-time and put his side on course for an unlikely victory with a pair of trademark headers.

The former Newcastle man capitalised on some questionable Seagulls defending to nod home the equaliser, before heading Joe Bryan's exquisite cross past Mat Ryan to make it 3-2 after 74 minutes.

Vietto nodded in his first goal of the season to put the seal on what could prove to be a pivotal victory in Fulham's battle to avoid the drop.

They nearly made it five with eight minutes remaining, but Cairney struck the woodwork for the second time in a matter of minutes with a dipping drive from outside the area.

Mixed evening for Murray

Brighton have fared no better than Fulham in recent weeks, with both sides registering only five points from a possible 24 in the run-up to Tuesday's meeting.

The Seagulls also went into the game with the worst away record outside the Premier League's bottom three, but they looked set to claim only their third win on the road this season after Murray's early brace.

It ended a run of eight league games without a goal for the 35-year-old striker, but the contest could have taken on an entirely different complexion had he taken one of several opportunities to complete his hat-trick either side of half-time.

He headed Gross's cross inches wide of the Sergio Rico's right-hand post late in the first half, before firing straight at Fulham's Spanish custodian from point-blank range moments later.

Murray was thwarted again by Rico two minutes before Mitrovic's second goal, his flicked header from Montoya's delivery palmed to safety by the Cottagers' goalkeeper.

Victory for Brighton would have lifted them 10 points clear of the bottom three with 14 games remaining, but their second-half capitulation leaves them seven points clear of the relegation places, and just four points off Southampton in 17th.

Man of the match - Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates his goal for Fulham against Brighton in the Premier League.
Mitrovic played an instrumental role in Fulham's astonishing second-half revival, scoring twice and contesting more duels (26) than anyone else on the pitch.

Mitrovic sets personal best - the stats

  • Fulham v Brighton is just the second match-up in Premier League history to see both sides come from two goals behind to avoid defeat in their two meetings within a season, after Blackburn Rovers v Bolton Wanderers in 2003-04.
  • Fulham came from behind in a Premier League game after being two or more goals down at half-time for the first time since 26 April 2008, when they beat Manchester City 3-2 away from home after being 0-2 behind at half-time.
  • Murray's opening goal ended an eight-game run without a goal for Brighton & Hove Albion - his worst-ever run without a goal in the Premier League for the club.
  • In scoring the first goal of this game, Murray opened the scoring in a Premier League match for the sixth time this season - only Mohamed Salah (nine games) has done so more often than the Brighton and Hove Albion striker (level with Harry Kane).
  • Murray's double saw him become the oldest player to score a brace in a Premier League game (35y 126d) since Frank Lampard for Chelsea v West Ham on 23 November 2013 (35y 156d).
  • Mitrovic has scored 10 Premier League goals in 2018-19, one more than his previous best tally within a season in the competition (nine in 2015-16 with Newcastle).
  • Mitrovic has now scored 20 Premier League goals - scoring five of those under Steve McClaren, five under Rafa Benitez, five under Slavisa Jokanovic and five under Ranieri.

Fulham 'a little more confident' - what the managers said

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri: "I did not imagine this. It was great to score in the second half, and the reaction was unbelievable.

"Mitrovic is a goalscorer. He plays this way, covers the ball, fights for every ball and gives spirit to everybody.

"We know nothing is done, but we are a little more confident that something could happen."

Brighton manager Chris Hughton:

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Fulham 4-2 Brighton: Chris Hughton laments second-half collapse

"As good as we were in the first half, we were equally as bad in the second half.

"We knew they would come out in the second half and go for it. We knew they would have good possession, but you've got to defend well in all of those situations.

"Once they got their first goal, that gave them some momentum. Once they got the second one, they were then in full flow.

"If you allow them the space and time to get the crosses in that they did, then you're asking for trouble. You're hoping that they don't show quality at the end of it, but unfortunately for us they did."

What's next?

Fulham travel to Crystal Palace in the Premier league on Saturday, 2 February (15:00 GMT), while Brighton host Watford at the same time.

Line-ups

Fulham

  • 25Rico
  • 4Odoi
  • 20Le Marchand
  • 13ReamSubstituted forCairneyat 27'minutes
  • 22Christie
  • 5Chambers
  • 24SeriBooked at 36mins
  • 23BryanSubstituted forR Sessegnonat 77'minutes
  • 14SchürrleSubstituted forViettoat 45'minutes
  • 9Mitrovic
  • 12BabelBooked at 87mins

Substitutes

  • 1Bettinelli
  • 3R Sessegnon
  • 7Kebano
  • 10Cairney
  • 11Ayité
  • 19Vietto
  • 44Cissé

Brighton

  • 1Ryan
  • 22Montoya
  • 4DuffyBooked at 36mins
  • 5DunkBooked at 75mins
  • 3Bong
  • 13GroßSubstituted forAndoneat 77'minutes
  • 6StephensBooked at 26mins
  • 24Pröpper
  • 20March
  • 17Murray
  • 9LocadiaSubstituted forKnockaertat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Bruno
  • 7Kayal
  • 8Bissouma
  • 10Andone
  • 11Knockaert
  • 27Button
  • 33Burn
Referee:
Lee Probert
Attendance:
22,008

Match Stats

Home TeamFulhamAway TeamBrighton
Possession
Home62%
Away38%
Shots
Home24
Away15
Shots on Target
Home8
Away6
Corners
Home10
Away1
Fouls
Home10
Away5

Live Text

Match ends, Fulham 4, Brighton and Hove Albion 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Fulham 4, Brighton and Hove Albion 2.

Foul by Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham).

Martín Montoya (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Offside, Fulham. Ryan Babel tries a through ball, but Aleksandar Mitrovic is caught offside.

Attempt blocked. Anthony Knockaert (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Solly March with a cross.

Attempt missed. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is too high following a fast break.

Attempt saved. Luciano Vietto (Fulham) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Attempt saved. Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Florin Andone with a cross.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) because of an injury.

Attempt saved. Solly March (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Foul by Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham).

Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Booking

Ryan Babel (Fulham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Ryan Babel (Fulham).

Gaëtan Bong (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham).

Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Tom Cairney (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Ryan Sessegnon.

Tom Cairney (Fulham) hits the bar with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Ryan Babel with a cross.

Goal!

Goal! Fulham 4, Brighton and Hove Albion 2. Luciano Vietto (Fulham) header from very close range to the top right corner. Assisted by Ryan Babel.

Attempt missed. Ryan Babel (Fulham) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.

Tom Cairney (Fulham) hits the bar with a left footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Luciano Vietto.

Attempt blocked. Anthony Knockaert (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Attempt saved. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Substitution

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Florin Andone replaces Pascal Groß.

Substitution

Substitution, Fulham. Ryan Sessegnon replaces Joe Bryan because of an injury.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Joe Bryan (Fulham) because of an injury.

Calum Chambers (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Solly March (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Booking

Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card.

Goal!

Goal! Fulham 3, Brighton and Hove Albion 2. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Joe Bryan with a cross.

Attempt saved. Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Martín Montoya with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Anthony Knockaert replaces Jürgen Locadia.

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Lewis Dunk.

Foul by Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham).

Davy Pröpper (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Jean Michael Seri (Fulham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Liverpool23193154134160
2Man City24182463194456
3Tottenham23170648232551
4Chelsea23145440192147
5Arsenal24145550331747
6Man Utd24136548351345
7Wolves2410593031-135
8Everton249693533233
9Watford239683232033
10Leicester2394102929031
11West Ham2494113037-731
12Bournemouth2393113342-930
13Brighton2475122736-926
14Newcastle2466122132-1124
15Burnley2465132545-2023
16Crystal Palace2364132332-922
17Southampton2357112540-1522
18Cardiff2454152046-2619
19Fulham2445152553-2817
20Huddersfield2425171341-2811
View full Premier League table

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