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Brighton 1-2 Chelsea: Palmer and Nkunku strike to edge Blues towards Europe

Chelsea moved to within a point of a place in the Europa League after beating Brighton on the South Coast.

Amex Stadium

Chelsea are on the verge of qualifying for Europe after beating Brighton 2-1 at the Amex Stadium in the Premier League.

The Blues raced into the lead with goals from Cole Palmer and Christopher Nkunku, but things took a sour turn when captain Reece James was sent off late on.

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Brighton managed to pull one back in added time to put a nervous finish on the match, but they were unable to find an equaliser.

It was a match full of controversy with the Blues having a goal and a penalty disallowed on the South Coast.

Their skipper will return to the stands having just returned from injury as the West Londoners look to finish strong against Bournemouth on the final day.

How things unfolded

Chelsea were awarded an early penalty after Facundo Buonanotte slid in on Marc Cucurella, but it was quickly chalked off after replays showed the challenge was perfectly timed.

More chances came for the Blues, with Malo Gusto and Nicolas Jackson having attempts saved by Bart Verbruggen.

Not long after, they had their opener.

Cucurella found space down the left-hand side and the ex-Brighton man pulled back a cross with Palmer running onto it and looping a header past the goalkeeper.

It was almost two a split second later.

Jackson headed home at the back post, but referee Michael Salisbury ruled the goal out for a push on Tariq Lamptey.

Chelsea extended their lead in the second half through the returning Nkunku, sparking extra celebrations from the away end on the South Coast.

Gusto was able to create some space on the right wing and sent a low cross in, finding the incoming Nkunku who passed home to double the lead.

There were questions over whether Brighton should have been down to 10 men after Jackson went down following a sliding challenge from Verbruggen outside his penalty area.

But it was just a yellow card for the keeper. Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino was visibly furious on the sideline, questioning why it wasn’t a red card.

He would have been put in an even worse mood when his captain was sent off not long after.

James had been fouled by Pedro, but while on the down, the full-back kicked out at the Brazilian and connected with his leg.

It was originally missed by the referee but after a VAR review, the England international was given his marching orders.

Brighton put the pressure on in the dying moments by grabbing a goal back through Danny Welbeck.

Pedro sent in a low cross and Welbeck got to the near post before Benoit Badiashile and fired into the bottom corner.

But the West Londoners managed to defend well for the remaining minutes and record their fourth Premier League win in a row.

What it means

Chelsea can secure a place in the Europa League with a win on the final day after Newcastle dropped points at Manchester United.

Should the Blues win and Tottenham lose, they would finish fifth, which would be a remarkable achievement considering how poorly they started the season.

For Brighton, they can still finish in the top half but will likely need to win as well on Sunday.

Bournemouth are breathing down their necks but the Seagulls will fancy themselves at home to Manchester United.

Chelsea take on the Cherries and the side they beat tonight will be hoping the Blues do them a favour at Stamford Bridge.

Picture of Mitch Fretton

Mitch Fretton

Mitch is a freelance sports journalist with experience working for LiveScore, GOAL and Colchester United. He has experience working from both his desk at home and in the press box at games covering the Champions League and international football.

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