Newcastle United 4 Brighton and Hove Albion 1
It was perhaps a step too far for Roberto De Zerbi’s tinkering as two late late goals saw Albion come a cropper at St James’ Park.
The Seagulls – two goals down at half time – were right back in the match at 2-1 and had chances to draw level but were well beaten in the end.
Newcastle went ahead through an own goal from Deniz Undav as Kieran Trippier swept in a trademark corner.
Albion failed to get going in terms of the tempo and fluidity seen at the Emirates on Sunday. Only Danny Welbeck forced Nick Pope to get his hands dirty in the first half.
Lewis Dunk was lucky not to concede a penalty after he hacked at Callum Wilson and Jason Steele made a number of routine saves.
Newcastle’s second goal came from a Trippier free kick floated towards the area and headed downwards and planted home for 2-0 by former Albion defender Dan Burn.
Steele made a terrific save early in the second half from Newcastle’s Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almiron.
Minutes later a superb defence-splitting ball by Billy Gilmour found Undav who beat two defenders and slotted past Pope to halve the deficit at 2-1.
Albion made several substitutions – Alexis Mac Allister, Evan Ferguson and Julio Enciso all entered the fray on 56 minutes as Welbeck, Buonanotte and Gilmour made way.
Albion just couldn’t seem to create the chances required and were unable to get Mitoma into the match, however hard they tried. Encisco looked sharp though and had a few chances but most notably he had a dust up with his compatriot and one-time hero Almiron. The two tussled over a throw in.
Steele made a fantastic save from Alexander Isak as Albion first introduced Odel Offiah for Gross then gave a Premier League debut to Cameron Peupion.
Finally Mitoma got involved but Encisco spurned a great chance to equalise. And while pushing forward, Albion were caught out. Van Hecke, already injured and clearly limping, tried to play Wilson offside as he raced clear from the halfway line. But it was to no avail as Wilson wrong-footed Steele and put the home team 3-1 up with a minute of the 90 remaining.
A minute later it was almost the same again. Wilson strode forward and this time found Bruno Guimaraes to smash home a fourth.
Albion will now have to beat already relegated Southampton at the Amex on Sunday (21 May) – 40 years to the day of the 1983 FA Cup final to stay on track for a place in Europe.
They will also need to pick up another three points against either Champions-elect Manchester City next Wednesday also at the Amex or against recent bogey team Aston Villa on the last day.