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Cole Palmer’s Goal Boosts Chelsea’s European Qualification Hopes with Win Over Brighton

Cole Palmer's Goal Boosts Chelsea's European Qualification Hopes with Win Over Brighton

Cole Palmer’s outstanding season with Chelsea continued as his goal helped the Blues enhance their European qualification prospects with a win at Brighton in the Premier League.

Palmer scored his 22nd league goal of the season, connecting with Marc Cucurella’s cross and sending a looping header into the far corner in the 34th minute.

Chelsea extended their lead 14 minutes into the second half when Christopher Nkunku coolly finished off a Malo Gusto cutback.

Despite their control of the game, Chelsea gave Brighton a lifeline when substitute Reece James—playing just his second match in 2024 after recovering from a long-term injury—was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Joao Pedro.

In the 97th minute, Danny Welbeck reduced the deficit by tapping in a Pedro cross, but Chelsea managed to hold on.

Chelsea moved up to sixth in the table, securing a Europa League spot. They will ensure a place in Europe next season if they earn a point at home against Bournemouth on the final day.

Brighton suffered their seventh defeat in nine matches but remain in 10th place.

Palmer Shines but Chelsea Nearly Squander Win

Palmer has proven to be one of the signings of the season. Before his move to Chelsea from Manchester City in the summer, the 22-year-old had never scored in the top flight. This campaign, he has notched up 22 goals and 10 assists in 33 league games.

Chelsea had the upper hand in the first half and were awarded an early penalty when referee Michael Salisbury judged Facundo Buonanotte to have fouled Cucurella in the penalty area. The decision was overturned after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) advised Salisbury to review the incident on the pitchside monitor.

VAR intervened again towards the end of the first half to confirm Salisbury’s decision to disallow a Nicolas Jackson header, after the Chelsea striker pushed Tariq Lamptey during the build-up.

Palmer, however, continued to impress in a game that heated up when James reacted to a Pedro tackle by catching the Brighton striker’s leg with his studs. Despite this setback, Chelsea held on, achieving their fourth consecutive win for the first time since 2022.

With a three-point cushion over Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino’s side could potentially finish the season as high as fifth if results go their way on Sunday. This would be a remarkable turnaround, considering the Blues were ninth in the league and 13 points behind Spurs after a 5-0 loss to Arsenal last month.

Too Little Too Late for Brighton

Brighton has secured only three wins since the beginning of March and have now won just one of their past nine matches. With 10 minutes remaining, a point seemed out of reach.

The Seagulls, however, finished strongly with Simon Adingra hitting the inside of the post moments before Welbeck’s consolation goal. They also had several opportunities to equalize when they were just one goal down.

Pedro struck the bar with a powerful header just before half-time, and Pascal Gross narrowly missed after the restart. Brighton also had a penalty appeal early in the second half when Gusto appeared to trip Adingra, but referee Salisbury waved play on.

Brighton will conclude their season at home against Manchester United on Sunday.

Credit: BBC Sport

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