Kaoru Mitoma’s superstar turn has Brighton looking to the sky as the limit following a 1-0 win over stubborn Bournemouth at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
Brighton held more than 70 percent possession and rifled off 20 shots but only one, Mitoma’s 87th-minute header of a Jeremy Sarmiento cross, beat Cherries’ goalkeeper Norberto Neto.
Mitoma has four goal and an assist in six appearances all competitions since Dec. 31 and four of those games are Brighton wins. The Seagulls are back into sixth place, two points off fifth-place Spurs with a match-in-hand, and give points behind Newcastle before the Magpies meet West Ham.
Bournemouth sits 19th, a point off safety and two points above 20th-place Saints.
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Bournemouth shows hope but Brighton keeps class
Kaoru Mitoma certainly looks to be comfortable in the Premier League, and who needs a 20-yard banger or intra-box juggle-and fire every week? This time Mitoma turned up with a late header for his show-stopper.
It was fitting for Brighton in this match with two goalkeepers who looked locked-in for zeroes, as the Seagulls are very much a team that’s kept mojo from Graham Potter to Roberto De Zerbi and is finding new wrinkles under the latter.
But Bournemouth can and should feel renewed optimism after new owner Bill Foley sanctioned moves for some badly needed flair players.
One of those, Dango Ouattara, looks downright dangerous, while Ivorian attacker Hamed Traore and Ghanaian striker Antoine Semenyo are proper alternatives to Kieffer Moore and injured Dominic Solanke.
When the Cherries get Marcus Tavernier back, the puzzle will be much closer to their best. How many pieces remain missing is what will dictate whether Bournemouth keeps its puncher’s chance to stay up.
Stars of the Show
Brighton goes to Palace at 10am ET Saturday before Fulham pays a visit to the Amex one week later.
Bournemouth hosts old friends Eddie Howe, Callum Wilson, and Newcastle United at 12:30pm ET Saturday before going to Wolves a week later.
Kaoru Mitoma goal video: Brighton breaks through
How to watch Brighton vs Bournemouth live, stream link and start time
Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Alexis Mac Allister (suspension), Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (undisclosed), Levi Colwill (undisclosed), Evan Ferguson (ankle)
Bournemouth team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: David Brooks (thigh), Lewis Cook (knee), Neto (thigh), Dominic Solanke (knee), Marcus Tavernier (thigh), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed), Junior Stanislas (undisclosed)