Brighton & Hove Albion 0 – 1 Fulham
Manor Solomon handed Fulham the advantage in the race for European qualification as he secured a smash-and-grab Premier League victory with a late goal away to Brighton.
Fulham rarely made it out of their own half in the absence of focal point Aleksandar Mitrovic but Solomon’s 88th-minute winner made amends for a below-par performance.
Brighton were dominant throughout and had two goals ruled out for offside but failed to make the most of their chances.
Fulham have leapfrogged Brighton and sit in sixth place, one point behind Tottenham, who occupy the Europa League spot.
The hosts started the game brightly with Evan Ferguson sending an effort over the crossbar, Solly March curling one wide and Pervis Estupinan having a shot blocked behind by Issa Diop.
Fulham struggled to make any forays forward and delivered little when they did so, Bobby Reid looking isolated up front.
Roberto de Zerbi’s side remained relentless in their pressure but saw efforts from Joel Veltman and Ferguson saved.
Alexis Mac Allister then tested Bernd Leno with a volleyed effort on the swivel from the edge of the box, but the German was equal to it.
Fulham did little to improve after the break and remained mostly confined to their own half as the hosts searched for an opener.
The Seagulls twice thought they had opened the scoring, with Solly March and Facundo Buonanotte putting the ball in the net, but they had their celebrations cut short by the assistant referee’s flag.
And it was Fulham who took home the three points against the odds after Solomon latched on to a Carlos Vinicius ball before emphatically slotting past Robert Sanchez.
Brighton boss De Zerbi received a red card in the tunnel after the full-time whistle.
Fulham struggle without Mitrovic
Silva’s nerves may have been settled somewhat after his side’s late win but Fulham’s struggles in front of goal without top scorer Mitrovic will have left reason to worry.
The Serbian was absent from the squad with a minor injury sustained in the warm-up to last weekend’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
They produced only two shots on target and found it difficult to progress into the final third, being penned back by Brighton for much of the game.
Winger Harry Wilson, who replaced Mitrovic, attempted to provide some spark to their front line on the rare occasions that the visitors went forward yet often found himself isolated when doing so.
Reid, who was deployed as the central striker, only had one touch in Brighton’s box across the 90 minutes,
But Silva may find solace in the improvements brought about by Solomon’s introduction from the bench, with the Israel international adding pace and threat to an attack which had been sorely lacking in potency.
Misfiring Brighton undone by own errors
The game had seemed Brighton’s for the taking from the early moments but their lack of a clinical presence in the final third proved to be their undoing.
They had 21 shots to Fulham’s five but could not find the cutting edge needed to beat Leno.
It is not the first time finishing has proved to be Brighton’s Achilles heel this season, with their 21 shots against Brentford in October also failing to produce a goal.
With Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana both absent through injury, the hosts came agonisingly close to an opener but could not find a breakthrough as Ferguson, Mac Allister, and March all spurned chances.
Fulham’s low block made it difficult for Brighton to create clear-cut opportunities, although Leno was forced to make seven saves.