Substitute Tomer Hemed scored twice as Albion moved back into the Sky Bet Championship automatic promotion places with a 2-1 win over ten-man MK Dons, who missed a stoppage-time penalty.
Middlesbrough’s 1-0 win over Hull on Friday night saw them replace Brighton in the top two and it was looking like it may stay that way with the game goalless early in the second half.
But Hemed’s introduction in the 52nd minute quickly paid off as he scored the opening goal four minutes later from the penalty spot before making it 2-0 just after the hour mark.
MK Dons did pull a goal back through Anthony Kay and, despite Kyle McFadzean’s sending off two minutes later, the hosts could have snatched a dramatic draw only for Carl Baker to miss his stoppage-time penalty.
Chances were few and far between until Brighton boss Chris Hughton introduced Hemed as a second-half substitute seven minutes after the restart. It took the 28-year-old Israel international just ten minutes to turn the game on its head.
Hemed, who came on in place of former Dons academy player Sam Baldock, won his side a penalty after he was brought down by a clumsy challenge from Darren Potter and the striker stepped up himself to smash the Seagulls in front.
And just six minutes later Hemed bagged his 13th goal of the season after Jiri Skalak’s inviting cross to the back post was met with a bullet header by the former Real Mallorca star.
But the Dons gave themselves hope of a fightback in the 70th minute when Murphy whipped in a fizzing cross from the left-hand side which found Kay in the box and he headed home past Stockdale.
However, the hosts shot themselves in the foot less than a minute after scoring when McFadzean lost his cool and elbowed Hemed directly in front of the referee immediately after the restart, and the official had little choice but to show the Dons defender a straight red card.
The home side could still have claimed a last-gasp leveller, though, after being awarded a penalty on the stroke of the 90th minute for a handball in amongst a crowded Brighton penalty area.
But second-half substitute Baker stroked his kick agonisingly wide as the Seagulls hung on for the victory.
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