It’s been a wild one thus far at the Amex Stadium, and we’ve still got 45 minutes left to play.
Stoke City holds a 2-1 advantage against newcomer Brighton & Hove Albion after Kurt Zouma gave the visitors the lead on the stroke of halftime.
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Zouma headed home close range in first-half stoppage time to restore the Potters’ advantage, after Pascal Gross had equalized in the 44th minute for Brighton.
Stoke opened the scoring just prior to the half hour mark when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting finished off a stellar move that originated from a Xherdan Shaqiri long ball over the Brighton back line.
Brighton were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men after Glenn Murray went in late on a challenge against Stoke defender Kevin Wimmer.
Murray thought he had won himself a penalty kick minutes prior, but referee Lee Mason decided to continue play.
Chris Hughton looks to lead his Brighton and Hove Albion to a fifth-straight result as the Gulls welcome Stoke City to the Amex Stadium on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE
The Gulls have won two and drawn two, powered by goals from Glenn Murray and the playmaking of Pascal Gross.
Stoke’s 3-4-1-2 has Ramadan Sobhi, Eric Choupo-Moting, and Xherdan Shaqiri attacking the final third.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Ryan, Bruno, Dunk, Duffy, Bong, Stephens, Propper, Knockaert, Izquierdo, Gross, Murray. Subs: Krul, Hemed, Goldson, Schelotto, Suttner, Brown.
Stoke City: Grant; Zouma, Shawcross, Wimmer; Diouf, Fletcher, Allen, Pieters; Shaqiri, Ramadan; Choupo-Moting. Subs: Haugaard; Berahino, Jese, Afellay, Martins Indi, Adam, Crouch.
- Stoke leads all-time 16W-14D-9L
- First league meeting since 2006
- Potters have won last 8 in series
Brighton and Hove Albion meets Stoke City for the first time in Premier League history when the two battle at the Amex Stadium on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE
Brighton is unbeaten in its last four PL matches, with a pair of away wins and two draws at home.
They’ve been led at the back end by Shane Duffy and in attack by Pascal Gross, but it’s been a well-traveled Premier League veteran filling the goals. Glenn Murray has historic motivation to keep scoring, knowing that a marker versus Stoke would make him the first Brighton player to ever score a goal in four successive top flight matches.
Stoke followed up its win over Watford with a draw against Leicester City. The Potters have two goals and four assists from Swiss attacker Xherdan Shaqiri, and three and one from Senegalese scorer Mame Biram Diouf.
What they’re saying
Brighton’s Chris Hughton on bagging wins: “For a club like us to get back-to-back wins would show the level we are playing at. It’s tough. I remember being told by somebody with one of the promoted teams that they didn’t get their first away win until February-March. That can happen and it’s exactly the same for a team getting promoted to get back-to-wins. They are hard to come by. Any way we are able to do that would certainly be a major boost for us.”
Stoke manager Mark Hughes on Xherdan Shaqiri: “He is taking on more the role of the main instigator of our attacking threat. When he gets the ball, I think the whole team responds to that. You sense that maybe something’s going to happen. And I think the crowd sends it as well. And I know opposition team sense it too.”
Few matches are more of a toss-up than this one, and there’s no recent match-ups on which to rest our heads. So we’ll side with the home team managing a point, and maybe a pair of old-timer goals from Murray and Peter Crouch, in a 1-1 draw.
The pitch was far from perfect on Sunday, but that didn’t for Switzerland.
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The Swiss became the 27th team to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia after settling for a 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland at St Jakob-Park.
Chances were at a minimum throughout the match, but the visitors nearly forced the game into extra time when Jonny Evans‘ close-range effort forced a goal-line clearance out of the Swiss back line.
The hosts came out strong in the second half, with Ricardo Rodriguez testing No. Ireland keeper Michael McGovern immediately after the halftime break.
Xherdan Shaqiri was a menace down the wing throughout the first half for the Swiss, testing McGovern on several occasions as well.
The Northern Irish nearly broke the deadlock just two minutes into the match when Chris Brunt unleashed a powerful effort from distance.
Three more European spots will be up for grabs in the coming days as the WCQ cycle rounds out.
If you take into account Xherdan Shaqiri‘s personality — bold and bombastic — as well as his playing style — mercurial and full of flair — it’ll come as very little surprise to you that Switzerland’s star man is already making plans for a big party back home “when [they] qualify” for the 2018 World Cup.
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Speaking after Thursday’s controversial 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland, a result which puts the Swiss 90 minutes from qualification to next summer’s tournament in Russia, the Stoke City winger stopped short of using words like “guarantee” or “promise,” but went so far as to call out the Northern Irish as second-best while playing on their home soil, and predict more of the same in the second leg when the two sides meet in Sunday’s second leg in Basel — quotes from the Guardian:
“It’s going to be a nice party when we qualify. We can celebrate but we have to do it. We have taken one step to the World Cup.”
“I think we had the ball for 90 minutes. We created more chances than them. They were only dangerous from corners and free kicks. It was not enough. It was a great result for us, the best we could get. They will have to play more offensively in Basel. They have to score to try to get to the World Cup.
“They played too defensively, they did not do enough to score, so they’re going to come to Basel and try to be more offensive, but that will mean it is more open for us. We will not sit back and relax, we are not a team that does that. We will try to keep the ball and make our game.”