Teenager Evan Ferguson scored a hat-trick to demonstrate his remarkable potential and help Brighton lay down a marker for another special Premier League season as they outgunned Newcastle.
Both sides discovered their European groups this week after overachieving last term – and Albion look far better placed than the Magpies to challenge near the top this time round.
Republic of Ireland striker Ferguson pounced from close range after goalkeeper Nick Pope had spilled Billy Gilmour’s long-range effort.
The 18-year-old curled home a beauty from 25 yards to make it 2-0 – and then hit another, via a huge Fabian Schar deflection, for his 10th Premier League goal and his first hat-trick.
He becomes only the fourth player to score a Premier League hat-trick before their 19th birthday after Chris Bart-Williams, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen (four times).
Newcastle’s first shot on target did not come until the 87th minute and they scored with their second, as Callum Wilson chased down a long ball to fire home in injury time. However, it was far too late to threaten any comeback.
Slick Albion catch the eye again
Brighton’s continuing success is a genuine rarity at the top end of club football, with an excellent set-up meaning they just keep going despite bigger and richer clubs taking their stars.
When boss Graham Potter left for Chelsea, Roberto de Zerbi came in and made them better. When left-back Marc Cucurella went to the Blues for £60m, Pervis Estupinan replaced him and made them better.
Their key midfielders Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister went to Chelsea for £100m and Liverpool for £35m respectively this summer. And here they are on three wins from four games – above those teams.
Ferguson, as prodigious a talent as he is, might not have been given a regular run of games at another club after moving from Bohemians in 2021.
They are in their first European campaign this season, in the Europa League, but if they can balance both who knows what competition they could be in next season?
Solly March, Kaoru Mitoma and Lewis Dunk all had chances to score before Ferguson’s triple made him the first non-English player to hit 10 Premier League goals before their 19th birthday.
It is still early days and they have had a tough start in terms of fixtures, but Newcastle – who discovered their Champions League group this week – have lost three of their opening four games.
They had to make their first change to the starting line-up this season, with Sven Botman injured and Matt Targett replacing him, and had two chances to score in the opening three minutes with Alexander Isak twice shooting wide.
Sadly they were probably their best chances until the death when Wilson ran onto Sean Longstaff’s long ball to score a consolation.