BRIGHTON, England (Reuters) - Jordan Ayew’s late goal helped Crystal Palace claim a 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, leaving the hosts without a victory in eight Premier League matches this year.
Palace up to 12th in the table on 36 points while Brighton sit four points above the relegation zone having failed to secure a win since beating Bournemouth on Dec. 28.
Both teams were wasteful in front of goal in the first half, with Brighton midfielder Solly March failing to convert any of his three good chances.
The atmosphere in the Amex Stadium intensified at the half-hour mark after Palace forward Wilfried Zaha was involved in an altercation with Brighton substitute Ezequiel Schelotto, who was shown a yellow card despite not being on the pitch.
Neal Maupay and Lewis Dunk went close to finding a breakthrough for Brighton shortly after the interval but it was Palace forward Ayew who found the net against the run of play.
Christian Benteke carved open the Brighton defensive line after 70 minutes with a deft reverse pass for Ayew to score his seventh league goal of the campaign.
Zaha smashed a late effort against the post from a tight angle and despite dominating possession and having 24 attempts on goal, Brighton are now winless in their opening eight league matches of a calendar year for the first time since 1998 when they were in the fourth tier.
“It’s a sore one for us,” Brighton manager Graham Potter said. “I thought we, apart from the scoreline, did a lot well in the game, had chances, didn’t take them.
“They didn’t do too much to get their goal. We were the better team up to that point. That’s football, you have to put the ball in the net.
“I feel for the boys. We have to dust ourselves down. There’s enough quality there. We showed enough to say that we can move forward, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
For Palace boss Roy Hodgson, victory in his 100th Premier League game in charge of Palace edged them closer to top-flight safety.
“You can never say never, it’s good to get back to back wins and we’ve got two important games coming up,” Hodgson said. “If they go well, we can kiss relegation goodbye.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond