Brighton returned to successful ways in the Premier League with an Evan Ferguson-inspired 3-1 win over Newcastle at home.
Roberto De Zerbi’s men, who are set to embark on the club’s first European campaign, suffered a shock 3-1 loss to West Ham last time out which dampened their promising start.
The entertaining Seagulls had begun with a pair of 4-1 wins against Luton and Wolves so it remained to be seen which Brighton side would turn up when an equally ambitious Newcastle team visited them.
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Eddie Howe’s guests, though, were in the same boat having fallen to a 2-1 loss to Liverpool at St. James’ Park during gameweek three and that setback came days after returning from champions Manchester City with no points.
However, making this journey in recent years has been a miserable experience, with the last thing Newcastle needed was to shoot themselves in the foot. Omitted from England’s upcoming squad, Nick Pope did himself no favours with Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate potentially watching.
Following a period of relentless Brighton pressure, heading into the 30th minute, Pope’s kick to set a Magpies attack landed at Pervis Estupiñán’s feet, the Ecuadorian could have gone for goal, but instead played in Kaoru Mitoma, whose cross was booted clear by Pope. Billy Gilmour shoots. Pope spills and Evan Ferguson is on hand to smash home.
18-years-old. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/9PNimQ7Rr0
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) September 2, 2023
“Just decision-making, that’s what it’s all about. All Pope has to do is give it to Trippier. Then Newcastle are just hoping for the best,” said Alan Smith on Sky Sports commentary.
“What a rocket from Gilmour – it moves in the air. Pope cannot collect it, the sheer force of his shot. And that’s what you want from your centre-forward.”
Gilmour and Ferguson combined again for Brighton’s second. The former Chelsea midfielder poked the ball into Ferguson’s path and the Irishman struck a perfectly curled effort from 25 yards into the bottom corner. Pope had no chance. And the same could be said for Ferguson’s hat-trick goal which took a huge deflection of Fabian Schär.
There have only been two occasions when three players have scored a Premier League hat-trick on the same day:
23rd Sep 1995
◎ Robbie Fowler
◎ Alan Shearer
◎ Tony Yeboah
2nd Sep 2023
◉ Son Heung-min
◉ Erling Haaland
◉ Evan Ferguson
A hat-trick of hat-tricks. 🎩 pic.twitter.com/QI17RB7Kdi
— Squawka (@Squawka) September 2, 2023
Ferguson (10 goals and two assists) consequently became only the second non-English player to hit 10 Premier League goal involvements while aged 18 or younger, after Cesc Fàbregas (five goals and 10 assists). Equally impressive is the fact Ferguson goes down as the fourth player to score a Premier League hat-trick aged 18 or younger, after Chris Bart-Williams, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen (four times).
It took until the 87th minute for Newcastle to register their first shot on target of the match (Schar). Callum Wilson, who came off the bench, would rob Bart Verbruggen of a clean sheet when he bagged a mere consolation in stoppage time.
As touched upon, Newcastle don’t like playing here, they’ve now failed to win any of their seven Premier League visits (four draws and three losses). With that being said, there was perhaps nothing they could have done, since the start of last season, Newcastle’s eight Premier League defeats have come against teams who started the day, on average, in sixth position, with Brighton coming into this game in sixth. In fact, 71% of Eddie Howe’s Premier League defeats with the Magpies have come against sides starting the day in the top six (12/17).
Howe’s worry is Newcastle already picking up three Premier League defeats. It took 24 games last season for the Magpies to suffer that amount. Today, nonetheless, belonged to Ferguson whose future is nuclear bright.