BRIGHTON, England (REUTERS) - Brighton & Hove Albion's Dutch striker Juergen Locadia pounced just before the hour as they carved out a 1-0 home win against an unlucky Everton side who hit the woodwork twice in their Premier League clash on Saturday (Dec 29).
After a pedestrian opening 45 minutes, tempers flared in the second half of Everton's 4,500th game in the English top flight when their forward Richarlison went down injured and Brighton declined to put the ball out of play after winning it back.
The home side took the lead in bizarre fashion as a Pascal Gross corner struck Everton midfielder Andre Gomes, with the ball dropping to Locadia who swivelled before smashing it home.
The goal was initially disallowed as Locadia was in an offside position, but referee Andrew Madley reversed his decision after consulting his assistant, ruling that no Brighton player had touched the ball before Locadia struck.
Despite having a tough afternoon against Brighton centre-backs Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk, Brazilian Richarlison almost hit back immediately for the visitors, but his wicked shot was deflected onto a post by keeper David Button.
Kurt Zouma also hit the woodwork for Everton, sending his header from Gylfi Sigurdsson's free kick onto the crossbar in the dying minutes as the Blues slumped to their fourth defeat in seven league games in December.
"We need to put things right, ensure we start the year with a win and get up the table back to where we belong," disappointed Everton defender Michael Keane said, adding that the referee was right to award Brighton's goal.
"At the time a lot of the lads were not sure who the ball came off, but I was right there. It came off our player, so it was not offside, he was lucky it happened to fall to him, unlucky for us."
Brighton manager Chris Hughton praised Locadia's persistence.
"Locadia had a bit of fortune, but he was in the right place. He is used to scoring goals and had to wait a while. (I'm) Pleased for him, he's worked hard for it," Hughton said.
Brighton have now drawn with Arsenal and beaten Everton in their last two home games and have the seventh-best home record in the league.
"It has been a good year, on the back of two good performances against two good teams. It puts us in good stead," Hughton added.