Fulham produced a stirring comeback on the south coast as they stunned Brighton and ruined Darren Bent’s debut with a battling performance at the AMEX Stadium this afternoon.
Lasse Vigen Christensen was the star turn again for Fulham in midfield, creating an equaliser for Hugo Rodallega, and then scoring the deflected winner that piles more pressure on Brighton boss Saami Hyypia. The victory, made all the sweeter by the fact that Bent had celebrated his debut goal for the Seagulls by goading the Fulham fans, lifts Kit Symons’ side to sixteenth in the table and represents a strong response following the disappointing derby defeat at Brentford.
Bent, who was loan at Fulham as the Whites were relegated last season, marked his first appearance since joining Brighton this week with a first time finish through Marcus Bettinelli’s legs after Adrian Colunga had picked him out perfectly with a low cross. Rodallega, who had missed a great chance to give Fulham the lead earlier, drove home from ten yards after fine approach play from Christensen to level matters ten minutes later and then celebrated his equaliser in front of Bent.
The visitors seemed enlivened by the leveller and played the better football for the remainder of what had been a tight and edgy affair. Bryan Ruiz headed narrowly over, but the Costa Rican playmaker – restored to the first-team by Symons having been frozen out under Felix Magath – teed up Christensen, whose fourth goal of an impressive season was deflected past former Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale.
Brighton’s push for a late leveller was undermined by Colunga’s stoppage-time dismissal for a second yellow card after he dived in on Scott Parker and Fulham held on to record their sixth win in eleven games since Symons took charge at Craven Cottage.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (4-2-3-1): Stockdale; Bruno, J. Bennett, Hughes, Dunk; Gardner, Forster-Caskey; M. Bennett (March 78), Lua Lua (Ince 23), Colunga; Bent. Subs (not used): Walton, Calderon, Halford, Holla, Baldock.
BOOKED: Lua Lua, Colunga.
SENT OFF: Colunga.
GOAL: Bent (52).
FULHAM (4-1-2-1-2): Bettinelli; Grimmer (Zverotic 85), Stafylidis, Bodurov, Hutchinson; Parker; Christensen, Hyndman (Fofana 63); Ruiz (Woodrow 80); McCormack, Rodallega. Subs (not used): Kiraly, Williams, Roberts, Dembele.
BOOKED: Parker, Grimmer, McCormack.
GOALS: Rodallega (62), Christensen (77).
REFEREE: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).