Brighton 1 – 2 Chelsea

In-form Chelsea held on to beat Brighton 2-1 after Reece James’ late red card, meaning they move up to sixth in the Premier League and edge towards European football next season.

Goals from Cole Palmer and Christopher Nkunku had put the visitors in control at the Amex but it was a nervy finale for Mauricio Pochettino’s men after captain James kicked out at Joao Pedro and was sent off following a VAR check with two minutes of normal time remaining. Brighton could not add to Danny Welbeck’s close-range finish seven minutes into injury time, though.

A sixth-placed finish will earn Chelsea Europa League football, should Man City win the FA Cup, or a UEFA Conference League spot, if Man Utd beat their rivals at Wembley. There is yet hope of stealing fifth off London rivals Tottenham, should Spurs surprisingly slip up at Sheffield United on the final day.

But regardless of what happens elsewhere, Chelsea supporters will be buoyed by their side’s run of four straight victories, with their travelling fanbase able to celebrate back-to-back away wins for the first time in 2024.

There were plenty more talking points on the south coast, with VAR in focus just hours after it was revealed Premier League clubs will vote on scrapping the system for next season.

VAR Peter Bankes advised referee Michael Salisbury to check the pitchside monitor for James’ obvious sending off and there were other high-profile calls from the officials in Stockley Park in the first half.

Bankes also rightly advised the ref to overturn his decision to hand Chelsea a penalty for Facundo Buonanotte’s good tackle on Marc Cucurella – but let off Tariq Lamptey for taking out Mykhailo Mudryk. Bankes said there was no conclusive evidence of violent conduct from Lamptey. Mudryk was forced out of the game with concussion.

There was also a header from Nicolas Jackson ruled out in that first half but those calls ultimately did not prevent Chelsea from continuing their strong finish to the campaign.

Brighton mounted a big push at the end of this contest, with Simon Adingra hitting a post before Welbeck pulled one back. It was the second time they’d hit the woodwork, after Joao Pedro’s header against the bar on the stroke of half time. But once again Brighton lacked precision in the final third. It is now 15 games since they scored more than once in a match.

A third defeat of the season to Chelsea leaves their hopes of a top-half finish under threat on the final day.

What’s next?

The final day of the Premier League season sees Brightonhost Manchester United at the Amex on Sunday, kick-off 4pm.

At the same time, Chelseaare at home to Bournemouth as they look to secure their place in Europe.

#Brighton #Chelsea

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