- Tomer Hemed scores a hat-trick
- Bruno scores in the second half
- Albion move into second place
- The Seagulls record their biggest win of the season
Brighton & Hove Albion moved into second place in the Championship table with an emphatic 5-0 win over Fulham at the Amex - their biggest win of the season to date.
Tomer Hemed’s hat-trick and a goal each from Bruno and Anthony Knockaert were enough to put Albion just a point behind table toppers Middlesbrough, who are in action against Bolton Wanderers tomorrow lunchtime.
Chris Hughton made two changes to the side that beat Nottingham Forest on Monday, as Knockaert and James Wilson replaced Kazenga LuaLua and Jamie Murphy.
Albion created their first chance inside the opening three minutes when Knockaert’s corner to the far post was narrowly missed by the onrushing Dale Stephens.
The west Londoners broke forward for the first time through Ross McCormack, but the forward’s low, driven effort was comfortably saved by David Stockdale.
Scott Parker was next to try his luck from distance for the visitors, but his long-range strike went well wide of the target.
Beram Kayal then had a go from the edge of the area and Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli was forced to back peddle and tip the shot over the bar.
Albion did break the deadlock after Wilson was brought down inside the box and Hemed stepped up to take penalty, coolly sending Bettinelli the wrong way after 29 minutes.
The goal sparked the game into life with both Hemed and Jamie O’Hara entering the referee’s book.
The lead was doubled five minutes later through the Israeli international after he met Knockaert’s free-kick and nodded the ball past Bettinelli.
Brighton’s lead could have been extended further when Knockaert’s set-piece caused mayhem in the Fulham box, ending with Bettinelli saving Lewis Dunk’s header.
Jiri Skalak was next to try his luck from distance, but his shot clipped off Wilson and the Fulham shot-stopper made another save.
The visitors threatened little heading towards the break, with McCormack’s set-piece McCormack's effort flying high and wide of Stockdale’s goal.
The lead was extended nine minutes after the restart thanks to Bruno, who took a touch after being unmarked at the far post to put the Seagulls firmly in control of the game.
The Cottagers did create an opening when Moussa Dembele linked up well with McCormack, but the latter steered his effort over.
Knockaert tested the Bettinelli again with a low drive, but the shot-stopper did well to save on the line.
Stockdale prevented the visitors from gaining a foothold in the game with an excellent one-handed stop to keep out a looping shot.
Hughton’s men broke forward once again in a bid to increase their lead further, as Bettinelli’s leg kept out another Hemed effort after he was played through on goal by Wilson.
But Fulham refused to lie down and came close again through Dembele as his shot was tipped over the bar by Stockdale.
Hemed completed his hat-trick in the 80th minute after a deflected drive from Dale Stephens was diverted past Bettinelli by the forward.
It was almost 5-0 to Albion when Steve Sidwell's effort was stopped by the keeper's legs, but the attempt was flagged for offside.
The lead was extended to five with three minutes of normal time remaining, as Knockaert was fed by Kayal and his shot flew into the far corner.
The Seagulls were close to adding a sixth after substitute LuaLua was played through on the left-hand side by Knockaert, but his shot hit the side netting.
1901 CLUB LOTTERY
£1000 JACKPOT 128155
£100 SUPERSTORE VOUCHER 128188
MAGNUM OF CHAMPAGNE 129884
BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE 130757
BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE 127152
1ST PRIZE £450 2354
2ND PRIZE £50 4171
3RD PRIZE £25 3400
1ST GOAL TIME 29 MINS