Huddersfield Town boost their chances of finishing in the play-off positions with a comprehensive 3-1 win over table toppers Brighton & Hove Albion.
Brighton miss out on the opportunity to extend their lead at the top to four points with a dismal defeat at the feet of Huddersfield. The passing style of Huddersfield bamboozled Brighton’s midfield and defence, which made it simple for the hosts to control and dictate the match.
Tommy Smith’s early strike deflected past David Stockdale to give the hosts the lead in the 9th minute. Mooy’s poor header back towards goal gifted Hemed with an equaliser mid-way into the first half.
Huddersfield scored two late goals in the first half, Nakhi Wells regained their lead and Kachunga doubled it in stoppage time. David Wagner’s side move six points clear of seventh place Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton remain top of the table by a single point.
Brighton will travel to Brentford and Huddersfield host fellow play-off candidates Leeds United on Sunday.
Huddersfield deserved their two-goal half time lead on merit due to their mass creation of chances and control of possession. They played with a controlled, measured and patient approach, which tired the Brighton defence and created gaps to exploit.
Brighton sat deeper once falling one-goal behind after just nine minutes and attempted to catch their opponents on the counter-attack. They were fortunate to equalise when Moors was forced into a mistake to gift Hemed with a levelling goal.
Huddersfield were stubborn and resolute and weren’t forced into rushing into creating opportunities. They continued to play in a controlled and patient manor, which reaped results when they scored two late goals in the second-half.
Brighton were struggling to deal with the cross-field runs from the hosts and this created gaps in their defence. This occurred to help Huddersfield squeeze the ball through to Nakhi Wells to regain their lead.
Huddersfield reconsolidated their weakness of defending set pieces by making up for their lack of superiority in the air by defending free-kicks with a high-line. This paid off when they caught Glen Murray offside when he headed the ball into the bottom corner.
They quickly restarted the next phase of play and caught Brighton on the counter-attack. Moors played a key role in the midfield once again by playing a sweeping pass out to the left flank for Nakhi Wells. Stockdale palmed his delivery into the air and Kachunga showed great awareness to swoop in at the back post and convert his header.
Brighton switched to a 4-3-3 formation at the beginning of the second half to add solidarity and attempt to level up with Huddersfield. Their attempts were in vein because Lewis Dunk let his side down by being dismissed for a second bookable offence just past the hour mark.
Huddersfield were simply teasing Brighton once they were reduced to ten-men. Brighton failed to utilize their full-backs from the first whistle and the wingers also sat very deep, which left them isolated on the flanks.
The hosts’ passing style looked to be influenced by “rondo” and “tika-taka”. It was like watching Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Spain with the movement with and without the ball. They worked very hard to win the ball back when they lose possession and create spaces with their movement when in possession.
The coach Wagner deserves a huge amount of credit for the new style of play that his team are portraying. They have obviously practised drills on the training ground for ball-to-eye coordination and triangular passing movements. They also have skilful and apt players to compliment this style and undo Brighton in the final third.