Dale Stephens

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FA Cup: Brighton beats Crystal Palace on Murray winner

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Glenn Murray played hero again as he claimed an 88th minute winner in a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup.

The 34-year-old came on in the 81st minute and scored just seven minutes later, claiming a slight touch off Uwe Hünemeier’s outstanding header to the far post. It’s the seventh goal for Murrah this season and fifth FA Cup goal in his career.

28-year-old Dale Stephens bagged his first goal of the season 25 minutes in to open the scoring as he touched brilliantly near the top of the box to skip by a defender and struck just under the armpit of Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey from a tight angle, a fully deserved lead for the Seagulls after holding nearly 70% of possession through the opening half-hour. It’s the first goal for Stephens in any competition for over a year, most recently finding the back of the net in Championship play against Blackburn Rovers last December.

Despite their possessional disadvantage, the Palace midfield continued to muck up the game, but the visitors to Falmer Stadium couldn’t manage a decent spell on the ball. After the break, however, the visitors looked more involved, and with 20 minutes to go Bakary Sakho brought Palace back level with a knuckler that bent away from a diving Tim Krul and into the back of the net.

The goal invigorated the visitors, and Sakho nearly had another from the same spot just minutes later, but he went for the near post and hit the side netting. Brighton, working with just two substitutions for much of the game due to an injury to Izzy Brown in just the sixth minute, still held a significant shot advantage and nearly went back in front down the other end as Hennessey saved a powerful effort by the substitute Sam Baldock, while Beram Kayal skied over the bar despite all day to shoot in the middle of the box. Baldock also launched over the bar on a one-on-one breakaway in the 82nd minute.

Brighton grabbed the winner with just two minutes until full-time as Hünemeier got his head to a free-kick, directing it perfectly to the inside of the far post. It likely would have gone in either way, but Murray charged it down to make sure the ball went in, and replays showed the ball grazed his knee on its way in.

Crystal Palace wouldn’t go down without a fight, as they pushed one more attack, but the hosts kept the ball out somehow as the final whistle went. With a way to the 4th round, Brighton will take on Middlesbrough at Riverside Stadium.

Brighton 0-0 Crystal Palace: Rivals share the spoils

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  • Brighton have 1 defeat in 7 PL games
  • Palace pick up first away point of season; first shutout
  • Seagulls unbeaten at home since opening day of season

Rivals Brighton and Crystal Palace played out a 0-0 draw at the Amex Stadium in their first-ever meeting in the Premier League.

Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha had the best chances for Palace in the first half, while Glenn Murray and Jose Izquierdo went closest to breaking the deadlock for Brighton.

With the point Brighton move on to 17 points for the season, while Palace have nine points and are within three points of moving out of the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was a tense, tight start down on the South Coast and the first big chance of the game went to Palace.

A long ball over the top found Christian Benteke and his shot was saved superbly by Mat Ryan who then reacted to the loose ball and denied Wilfried Zaha on the follow-up.

At the other end Lewis Dunk had a header on goal saved by Wayne Hennessey but it was Palace who started to turn the screw as they enjoyed more possession.

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Jose Izquierdo then had a shot saved well down low by Hennessey and Dale Stephens fluffed his follow-up with the home side growing into the game.

Pascal Gross then had a low shot well saved by Hennessey as Brighton threatened as the first half came to a close.

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Palace went close as Zaha smashed a ball across goal but neither Andros Townsend or Benteke read the situation and they let Brighton off the hook.

Shane Duffy then nodded an effort onto the top of the net and Stephens spanked an effort inches wide of the post with Brighton pushing hard.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Brighton had a great chance to grab the lead late on as Glenn Murray’s header was kneed off the line by Townsend.

Late on Zaha broke free and set up Ruben Loftus-Cheek but his shot was straight at Ryan and the game finished scoreless with both teams seemingly happy enough with a point.

Benitez peeved by block on Brighton’s clever set piece goal (video)

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Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens and Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez obviously feel quite different about the match-winning goal the Gulls nabbed off a set piece on Sunday.

[ MORE: Recap | Hemed denies intent vs. Yedlin ]

Both agree on one thing, though, there’s blocking involved in the play’s success.

“We’ve tried it a few times,” Stephens said. “I’m glad it paid off. We change the blocker each time.”

Benitez saw his club’s three-match winning streak end largely on the merit of that goal, and thinks a foul should’ve been spotted by Andre Marriner.

Ciaran Clark is partially and purposely blocked from moving toward Stephens at the back post, and also misses the ball after Stephens nods back across goal.

It’s a clever play which led to an important goal, but Benitez feels it was insidious and illegal.

“I am not happy with the way we conceded. It was a block, an illegal block. You cannot argue too much but it is very difficult to understand some things. They pushed my players.

What do you think? There’s not much in the block. At the same time, it’s hard to call it anything but a block.