Goalscorers: Glenn Murray 3, 17, Calum Chambers 47, Aleksandar Mitrovic 58, 74, Luciano Vietto 79
Fulham: Sergio Rico, Tim Ream (Tom Cairney 27), Calum Chambers, Cyrus Christie, Maxime Le Marchand, Joe Bryan (Ryan Sessegnon 77), Dennis Odoi, Jean Michael Seri, Ryan Babel, Andre Schurrle (Luciano Vietto 45), Aleksandar Mitrovic
Brighton & Hove Albion: Mat Ryan, Gaetan Bong, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Martin Montoya, Dale Stephens, Davy Propper, Pascal Gross (Florin Andone 77), Solly March, Jurgen Locadia (Anthony Knockaert 71), Glenn Murray
Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 22,008
Seven points adrift of Premier League safety after a recent late home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham were desperate for a victory to stay in-touch in the relegation battle. Brighton & Hove Albion were the visitors to Craven Cottage for an enthralling match in January 2019.
Claudio Ranieri’s team needed to make a good start but the first 20 minutes of this contest for the Cottagers was a horror show. They quickly found themselves 2-0 down thanks to two goals from the predatory instincts of Glenn Murray. Murray’s first strike arrived in just the third minute. He guided Martin Montoya’s cross into the corner of the net to score the first goal of his prolific career at Craven Cottage.
Murray was looking set to be Brighton’s top goalscorer in the Premier League for the second successive season and on 17 minutes, he doubled his tally for the evening. Again, Fulham’s lack of cover on the left-hand side was exposed, this time by Solly March. His cross wasn’t properly cleared and from Pascal Gross’ acrobatic effort, Murray finished from close-range. He had been played onside by Cyrus Christie and at this point, Brighton seemed to be on their way towards three fairly easy Premier League points.
Had it not been for Rico’s feet, Murray nearly had a first half hat-trick and the best Fulham could muster in a dreary first 45 minutes was a sharp save from Mat Ryan to deny the home side’s big goalscoring threat, Aleksandar Mitrovic. Right on the stroke of half-time, only the crossbar denied Davy Propper from making it 3-0 to the visitors.
With just one win in 10 matches and a shock early exit at home to fourth-tier Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup already on his Fulham CV, Ranieri needed to provide a stirring half-time team talk to lift his players. He brought off the ineffective Andre Schurrle for Luciano Vietto and he got the impact he needed from his players.
Within two minutes of the restart, on-loan utility player Calum Chambers had cut the deficit. He produced a rasping volley that gave Ryan no chance after Shane Duffy hadn’t got enough on his headed clearance. 11 minutes later, Fulham had their equaliser and Mitrovic got his goal. Ryan Babel’s cross took a deflection and no decisive action was taken in the penalty area by the Brighton backline. The usually bullish Duffy and Lewis Dunk both hesitated and Mitrovic pounced, getting in-between them and the onrushing Ryan to nod home the leveller.
Mitrovic was now causing havoc and with 16 minutes left, headed the team second-bottom into an unlikely lead. From Joe Bryan’s cross, the Serbian international overpowered Dunk to score his second of the evening. Before Brighton could recover, Vietto had put the game beyond the shattered Seagulls. Tom Cairney’s shot struck the woodwork and from the rebound, Babel gently laid the ball onto Vietto for the forward to head in his first goal for the club.
It was a stirring comeback from Fulham but the last win for Claudio Ranieri. Four consecutive defeats followed in February which led to his sacking and their relegation was confirmed in early April. Brighton managed just two more wins themselves in the campaign and although they stayed up, they elected to end Chris Hughton’s reign as manager 24 hours after the season concluded.