Having conceded inside five minutes in all three of their last games, Palace were adamant not to surrender the lead so easily here. The visitors sat tight and deep against a Brighton side who, for all their smart football, struggle to score at the best of times.The Eagles were offering little on the front foot but Vicente Guaita had not been tested at all.
This usually fervent contest was merely plodding along until Jean-Philippe Mateta, the French striker signed from Mainz in January, brought a moment of magic to bag his first goal for the club. Andre Ayew flew down the right onto a ball from Cheikhou Kouyate, managing to get ahead of a sliding Dan Burn and fire a low cross into the near post where his new teammate pirouetted and back-heeled the ball through the legs of Robert Sanchez and in.
Palace now had something to defend in the second half, but it did not last too long. Graham Potter sent on Danny Welbeck and the hosts ramped up the pressure. Pascal Gross’s shot from the edge of the box was hooked away from Welbeck by Tyrick Mitchell, but only to the feet of Joel Veltman, who fired home his first goal for Brighton at the near post.
Brighton were all over their visitors pushing for a late winner until Palace broke in the final minute of added time, Andros Townsend swung a ball to Benteke at the far post and the Belgian unleashed a pin-point volley across Sanchez and into the far corner.
Here is how Jack Rosser rated the Eagles…
Perhaps could have done better for the goal but made important saves shortly afterwards to keep it level.
Had his hands rather full with Trossard and Maupay, did well enough but was pinned back and couldn’t aid his side going forward.
Put everything on the line to keep it at just the one goal conceded.
Like Kouyate, was throwing everything in front of the Brighton efforts. Would have conceded far more without those two.
Struggled against Veltman with Brighton’s full-backs playing very high up.
Worked hard as always and saved some energy for a last gasp ball over to Benteke.
Offered little cover for the back four off the ball and brought no composure on it when Palace were under siege.
A couple of smart moments on the ball to try and get Palace away and settled. Needs to offer more in the final third.
Needs to offer more spark, especially when Zaha is absent. At least tried to get Palace forward.
An inspired finish to score his first goal for the club. Appeared to struggle with the pace of the Premier League in the second half.
Good run and cross for Mateta’s goal but struggled to create anything more from either flank.
Christian Benteke 8 Barely had a touch before scoring a staggering volley in the final minute.