Brighton stretched their unbeaten Premier League streak to a club-record nine games after Pascal Gross’s second-half strike earned a deserved win over Leeds. The hosts squandered a host of chances at the Amex Stadium before Gross coolly claimed his third goal of the season.
Leeds were second best for much of a frustrating afternoon in which manager Jesse Marsch was shown a second-half yellow card following persistent petulant touchline behaviour. He slammed the ball into the turf after his side were awarded a free-kick and then sarcastically applauded the referee, Michael Salisbury.
“Yeah, absolutely,” said Marsch when asked if the caution was merited. “I thought my behaviour at that point deserved the yellow card. But I always say, when you don’t believe that you’re getting a performance out of the referee I think you have two options: to sit there and take it or to escalate your behaviour to try to make a point to see if you can affect the way decisions are getting made.”
Marsch was particularly vexed by a string of free-kicks awarded against his team, one of which should have led to a 16th-minute opener for Brighton. Gross delivered a delightful set piece from wide on the right but unmarked centre-back Adam Webster somehow headed wide from the edge of the six-yard box.
Leandro Trossard fired over following a Gross corner, Solly March thumped straight at Illan Meslier and Webster was again off target when well placed, while Leeds failed to threaten before the break. The visitors enjoyed greater possession just after the restart but were almost caught out on the counterattack.
March was sent racing through on goal by a sensational first-time volleyed pass from Gross but wastefully stabbed into Meslier’s midriff.
Marsch was initially more restrained in the second period, although he almost had reason for an outpouring of emotion after the hour mark when the subsitute Luis Sinisterra threatened to make an immediate impact. Fine work from Brenden Aaronson resulted in Pervis Estupiñán inadvertently diverting the ball across his own area as he attempted to atone for conceding possession. But sliding Colombia forward Sinisterra missed a golden chance to score as he collided with the post.
Leeds captain Rodrigo then tested goalkeeper Robert Sánchez before the hosts broke the deadlock. Trossard, who had been profligate earlier in the match, opened up the visitors’ defence and Gross continued his fine start to the new campaign by calmly slotting into the bottom left corner.
The officials then finally lost patience with Marsch – the only surprises being it took so long and that, given his contemptuous clapping, the colour of the card was not different.
Brighton rode their luck at times in the closing stages but, despite Leeds defender Marcos Llorente going dangerously close eight minutes from time, they held on for a merited victory which extends their fine form.
“We played well, so I was disappointed not to have gone in ahead at half-time,” said the Brighton manager, Graham Potter. “But credit to the boys; they started the second half well and got the goal. Leeds are a good team, Jesse has done a good job and they’re hard to play against. We had to suffer a little bit but overall I think we deserved the win.”