Evan Ferguson boosts Brighton with maiden hat-trick in victory over Newcastle

Evan Ferguson hit his first career hat-trick as Brighton capped a memorable week by inflicting a third successive Premier League defeat on Newcastle with a thumping 3-1 success at the Amex Stadium.

Teenage striker Ferguson curled home a superb second from range to add to a simple first-half finish before completing his treble with the aid of a hefty deflection off Fabian Schar.

The 18-year-old’s heroics came a day after Albion were drawn to face Ajax, Marseille and AEK Athens in their maiden Europa League campaign.

Success for the Seagulls, who also pulled off a transfer coup on Friday by signing Ansu Fati on loan from Barcelona, was a third from four this season following last weekend’s loss to West Ham.

Newcastle were only beaten five times in the top flight during the whole of last term but were unable to halt their recent slide on the back of setbacks against Manchester City and Liverpool, despite Callum Wilson’s late consolation.

Striker Alexander Isak wasted two early opportunities before the Magpies were blown away to temper the excitement following their mouthwatering Champions League draw.

Eddie Howe’s men were on Thursday pitted against AC Milan, Paris St Germain and Borussia Dortmund in European football’s premier competition, while Brighton’s maiden continental campaign will also include heavyweight opposition.

Newcastle began brighter from an attacking perspective and Isak twice threatened during a shaky start from the Seagulls.

The Sweden striker was denied inside 55 seconds by Jan Paul van Hecke’s last-ditch tackle following Bruno Guimaraes’ fine through ball before shinning wastefully wide after Pervis Estupinan’s poor clearance led to Sandro Tonali cutting the ball back from the right.

Brighton, who paraded 20-year-old Spain forward Fati and fellow new signing Carlos Baleba ahead of kick-off, were dominating possession.

Yet Roberto De Zerbi’s hosts again escaped in the 16th minute when Miguel Almiron’s low cross from the right deflected off Lewis Dunk and was turned behind by goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen.

Newcastle were then punished for mistakes of their own 11 minutes later.

Rushed clearances from keeper Nick Pope and midfielder Tonali led to the former spilling Billy Gilmour’s stinging effort and Ferguson was on hand to slot home the rebound.

With his team still awaiting their first attempt on target, Howe brought on England striker Wilson as part of a triple substitution in the 58th minute.

Isak’s pace remained a constant concern for the hosts but they soon secured breathing space courtesy of Ferguson’s magic.

The Republic of Ireland international was afforded time and space deep inside Newcastle’s half and duly dispatched a fine curling effort into the bottom right corner from distance.

Anthony Gordon wasted a golden opportunity to halve Newcastle’s deficit by sidefooting wide before Brighton put the result beyond doubt.

Ferguson, who made his professional debut for Irish club Bohemians aged just 14, again took aim from outside the box, only this time his bending effort benefited from a significant flick of Schar to fly beyond the stranded Pope.

The match-winner was withdrawn to a standing ovation nine minutes from time after making it 10 Premier League goals in just 12 starts.

In spite of the scoreline, Newcastle’s sold-out following continued to vocally back their side.

They were given scant reward on a punishing evening two minutes into added time when substitute Wilson burst forward and escaped Van Hecke to poke home.