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Watford0Brighton3

Watford 0-3 Brighton: Neal Maupay scores on Seagulls debut

Neal Maupay
Maupay signed a four-year deal at Brighton on Monday after joining from Brentford

New Brighton manager Graham Potter said his side's winning start to the Premier League season was a "dream" as the Seagulls put three past a stunned Watford.

Brighton narrowly avoided relegation last term under Chris Hughton but, with Potter now at the helm, put that misery behind them as Abdoulaye Doucoure's first-half own goal gave them the lead.

The Seagulls had travelled to Vicarage Road on the opening day of last season, losing 2-0 on that occasion, but the scoreline was reversed as substitute Florin Andone, with virtually his first touch of the game, doubled their lead.

Just minutes later, Neal Maupay, who signed for the Seagulls on Monday, justified his £20m price tag with a debut goal, calmly finishing after rounding Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster.

"To score three away from home and not concede is a dream," Potter told BBC Sport.

"The preparation was first class. Overall I thought we tried to do what we set out to do and then you just need a bit of luck and quality.

"We've worked hard every day. There is a really good foundation from what has been done previously - our job is to get better. You can see how they have applied themselves, now we dust ourselves down and don't get carried away."

Watford, who finished 11th in the league last season and reached the FA Cup final, made the more promising start but their late slump at the end of 2018-19, in which they lost their final three matches of the campaign, continued into the new season.

Not since the opening day of the 2015-16 term - when they were in the Championship - had Brighton won their first league match of a season.

"What I know is that they played better than us and deserve the victory today. No excuses. It is the first game and we try to improve for the next one," said Watford boss Javi Gracia.

"The best news is that it is the first game. Sometimes it is good to wake up and improve - we need to do that for the next game.

"There were many individual mistakes. The first and second goal, they took advantage. We expected them to play three at the back and with that shape. We worked in the week to adjust well, but [did so] after they got the win."

New season, new start

Brighton finished 17th in the Premier League last season but a new campaign marks a fresh start for the Seagulls with Potter at the helm.

Managing his first Premier League match since replacing Chris Hughton in May, new signings Maupay, Leandro Trossard, Adam Webster and Aaron Mooy all started on the bench.

After a shaky start, the Seagulls soon settled at Vicarage Road, but little separated the two sides until Watford's Doucoure turned a Pascal Gross cross - destined for the boot of Glenn Murray - into his own net.

It marked the first time the away team had scored - albeit in this case with a helping hand - in a Premier League meeting between Watford and Brighton.

Half-time soon arrived but although it was the hosts who looked the more likely to score after the break, they were undone when Romania international Andone tapped in Davy Propper's cross from close range, moments after being introduced.

Victory was sealed just minutes later as Maupay latched onto a through ball, his goal confirmed after the video assistant referee - making its Premier League debut this season - checked for a possible offside.

Watford chances go begging

Last season's 11th place finish marked a record-breaking campaign for Watford, but manager Javi Gracia chose to postpone the debuts of new signings Ismaila Sarr and Danny Welbeck, who has a long-term ankle injury.

However, his squad was bolstered by the return of Gerard Deulofeu - scorer of 10 goals for Watford last season - after recovering from a muscle problem that plagued his pre-season.

And Deulofeu and captain Troy Deeney both had chances to give their side the lead as the Hornets searched for an opener, only to be left reeling after Doucoure's error.

Watford were unlucky not to level soon after though, when Brighton's new captain Lewis Dunk nearly put the ball into his own net - a Mat Ryan save bouncing awkwardly off his thigh and out for a corner.

After the break, substitute Roberto Pereyra led screams for a penalty after his free-kick from outside the area looked to have struck a hand in the wall, but after a VAR check, they were denied the spot-kick.

That frustration was compounded when Brighton scored their second, then their third, and from then on Watford lost their mojo.

Debutant Craig Dawson, who joined from West Brom in July, went close with a header from a corner that sailed into the arms of Ryan, but Watford's fans were pouring out of Vicarage Road from the moment Brighton's third went in.

'A dream' - what they said

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Potter praises 'fantastic' Brighton players after winning start

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No excuses for Brighton defeat - Gracia

Man of the match - Lewis Dunk (Brighton)

Lewis Dunk tackles Troy Deeney
Brighton's new captain was solid in defence, blocking an Andre Gray shot on the line and going close to a goal himself. One slip in concentration almost saw him hand Watford a goal but he made up for his error with the assist for Neal Maupay's strike.

Stats

  • Watford's 3-0 defeat was their first loss at home against Brighton since September 2012, when they lost 1-0, ending a run of four league games against the Seagulls at Vicarage Road without defeat.
  • Brighton secured their biggest victory on the opening day of a league season since 1999-2000 (6-0 v Mansfield in Division 4), whilst Watford suffered their biggest defeat on day one since 2001-02 (3-0 v Manchester City in the second tier).
  • Brighton have won their opening game of a top-flight season for just the second time (also in 1980-81 beating Wolves 2-0), drawing two and losing three of their other five games.
  • Watford have lost their opening game of a season for the first time since 2006-07 (a 2-1 defeat v Everton), ending a run of 12 matches without defeat on day one (won six, drawn six).
  • Brighton have ended a nine-game winless run in the Premier League (D3 L6), their first victory in the competition since beating Crystal Palace back in March.
  • Watford have lost three consecutive home league games for the first time since December 2013 in the Championship, when they suffered five consecutive defeats.
  • Florin Andone netted Brighton's second goal just 62 seconds after coming on as a substitute.
  • Brighton's Neal Maupay is the 13th different French player to score on his Premier League debut; only England (96) has seen more debut goalscorers in the competition.
  • Since the start of last season, no side has scored more Premier League own goals than Watford (four - level with Wolves and Burnley).

What's next?

Watford travel to Merseyside next Saturday to face Everton at Goodison Park (15:00 BST) while Brighton welcome West Ham to the south coast at the same time.

Line-ups

Watford

  • 26Foster
  • 21Femenía
  • 4Dawson
  • 15Cathcart
  • 25Holebas
  • 16Doucouré
  • 29Capoue
  • 19Hughes
  • 7DeulofeuSubstituted forPereyraat 45'minutes
  • 18GraySubstituted forSuccessat 75'minutes
  • 9Deeney

Substitutes

  • 1Gomes
  • 2Janmaat
  • 8Cleverley
  • 12Sema
  • 22Success
  • 27Kabasele
  • 37Pereyra

Brighton

  • 1Ryan
  • 22Montoya
  • 4Duffy
  • 5DunkBooked at 88mins
  • 33Burn
  • 20MarchSubstituted forBernardoat 90+2'minutes
  • 13Groß
  • 24Pröpper
  • 6Stephens
  • 9LocadiaSubstituted forAndoneat 64'minutes
  • 17MurraySubstituted forMaupayat 64'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Maupay
  • 10Andone
  • 11Trossard
  • 15Webster
  • 18Mooy
  • 27Button
  • 30Bernardo
Referee:
Craig Pawson
Attendance:
20,245

Match Stats

Home TeamWatfordAway TeamBrighton
Possession
Home48%
Away52%
Shots
Home11
Away5
Shots on Target
Home3
Away3
Corners
Home5
Away2
Fouls
Home15
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Watford 0, Brighton and Hove Albion 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Watford 0, Brighton and Hove Albion 3.

Pascal Groß (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by José Holebas (Watford).

Substitution

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Bernardo replaces Solly March.

Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by José Holebas (Watford).

Attempt blocked. Craig Dawson (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Troy Deeney.

Attempt blocked. Roberto Pereyra (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Roberto Pereyra (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Booking

Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Roberto Pereyra (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Craig Dawson (Watford).

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Dan Burn.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match because of an injury Florin Andone (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Martín Montoya (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Etienne Capoue (Watford).

Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Troy Deeney (Watford).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

VAR Decision: Goal Brighton and Hove Albion - Watford 0-3 Brighton and Hove Albion (Neal Maupay).

Delay in match (Brighton and Hove Albion). VAR checking.

Goal!

Goal! Watford 0, Brighton and Hove Albion 3. Neal Maupay (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Lewis Dunk with a through ball.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Isaac Success replaces Andre Gray.

Neal Maupay (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford).

Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Andre Gray (Watford).

Foul by Dale Stephens (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Martín Montoya (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Troy Deeney (Watford).

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Kiko Femenía.

Attempt saved. Craig Dawson (Watford) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kiko Femenía with a cross.

Foul by Dan Burn (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Will Hughes (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Goal!

Goal! Watford 0, Brighton and Hove Albion 2. Florin Andone (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Davy Pröpper with a cross.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Man City11005053
2Liverpool11004133
3Brighton11003033
4Burnley11003033
5Tottenham11003123
6Bournemouth10101101
7Sheff Utd10101101
8Crystal Palace10100001
9Everton10100001
10Arsenal00000000
11Chelsea00000000
12Leicester00000000
13Man Utd00000000
14Newcastle00000000
15Wolves00000000
16Aston Villa100113-20
17Norwich100114-30
18Southampton100103-30
19Watford100103-30
20West Ham100105-50
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