Two penalties put away by Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed ensured Leeds United suffered a defeat on a miserable night on the south coast at Brighton.
The comfortable 2-0 victory lifted Brighton to the top of the EFL Championship and left the Whites in fourth place after they did not manage a single effort on target.
It did not help United’s cause that they were forced to play 70 minutes with 10 men after midfielder Kalvin Phillips was sent-off for handball on the line that led to the first of Brighton’s successful spot kicks.
They started solidly enough with an unchanged line-up and were in no early danger apart from set pieces at which the hosts looked to rely on with their dangerous aerial threat from centre-backs Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy.
But the key moment arrived in the 23rd minute when keeper Rob Green was left in no man’s land to Anthony Knockaert’s corner and Dunk’s volley at the far post was handled on the line by Phillips.
Referee Paul Tierney had no hesitation in producing a red card for the young midfielder and awarded a sport kick, which was calmly put away by Murray.
More set piece trouble saw an almost action replay from another home corner, but this time Murray headed wide with Green again rooted to his spot.
The 11 against 10 contest proved a dull affair for the rest of the half apart from a few contentious bookings and non-bookings with United producing nothing of note in an attacking way until the 45th minute when a Hadi Sacko weak shot fell kindly for Chris Wood, but he totally miskicked from 12 yards out.
A quiet start to the second half saw little attacking football played by either side before Brighton’s Jamie Murphy found himself in space on 55 minutes, but saw his angled shot beaten away by Green.
Murphy then sent a flicked header wide and Duffy put the ball in the net only to be correctly ruled offside from yet another set piece.
Leeds showed plenty of spirit, but too many of their players had off nights and they were lucky not to go two down when Duffy sent a header straight at Green from Knockaert’s free-kick.
It was 2-0 two minutes later as Kyle Bartley gave a free-kick away and was booked for a pull back then moments later made a bigger error in making contact with Dunk inside the area to give the home team their second penalty.
Hemed - on as substitute for Murray who was lucky not to be sent-off for a succession of fouls after he had been booked - sent Green the wrong way from the spot to make it 2-0.
United did create a late chance when Wood headed wide from their only corner, but they could have no complaints at suffering a sixth straight defeat against Brighton.
Head coach Garry Monk was unhappy with his side’s display, but vowed that the team would learn lessons from the game.
He said: “We never really gave ourselves a chance to show our best.
“”Respect to Brighton, they are a very good team, but I felt we made our own downfall.
“We never allowed ourselves to show our true best, which we have in recent weeks.
“The red card made it hard, we had to rearrange, but we stayed within the game. But it was disappointing to concede the second penalty.
“We limited them with 10 men, but we didn’t really do ourselves justice. That’s frustrating for us and frustrating for our fans that travelled and something that we’ll have to put right on Tuesday.
“My work now is to refocus the players. We’ve good another game on Tuesday night, a big game and we have to take the feeling from tonight, the disappointment, and put it right.”
Brighton and Hove Albion 2
(Murray 24, pen, Hemed 81, pen)
Leeds United 0
Friday, December 9, 2016
Brighton: Stockdale, Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Pocognoli, Knockaert (Skalak 87), Stephens, Norwood, Murphy (March 66), Murray (Hemed 78), Baldock.
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson (Cooper 88), Taylor, Phillips (sent-off 23), Vieira, Sacko (Grimes 45), Roofe, Doukara (Dallas 70), Wood.
Referee: Paul Tierney