Chris Hughton praised a “manly” performance from Brighton and Hove Albion as they edged closer to Premier League survival with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
Anthony Knockaert’s sublime curling effort found the top corner to seal a morale-boosting win for Brighton, giving them a second successive triumph.
His strike came after Luka Milivojevic’s penalty had cancelled out Glenn Murray’s superb opener, the forward capitalising on a mistake from James Tomkins.
Victory moved Brighton onto 33 points – eight clear of the bottom three, and seven away from the target Hughton has set his sights on.
“It’s a manly performance and particularly after conceding that goal in the second half, the place was rocking and they had all of the momentum,” said the Seagulls boss.
“I always maintained 40 points is the easiest and obvious one [target] to look for. It’s something to aim for and every team wants to surpass that.
“We have two wins on the spin and we’ve not had many back-to-back wins this season and we can try and make that three.”
Some may have felt Knockaert was lucky to be on the pitch after a challenge on Milivojevic inside 30 seconds, but Hughton insisted referee Craig Pawson was right to only issue a yellow card.
He added: “That tackle was absolutely not a red card.”
Palace manager Roy Hodgson claimed Knockaert had gone over the top on Milivojevic and conceded the Frenchman’s late winner had been hard to take.
“He committed a bad foul early on but I don’t think it was a malicious foul,” said the former England boss. “It was a winger’s tackle, wasn’t it? Trying in a derby game that show his commitment.
“It was over the ball and it was a bad foul, but I presume the referee gave him the benefit of the doubt on that one. But certainly it was a fantastic goal they scored to win the game.
“After getting back into the game at 1-1 and looking like we might go on to really capitalise on the possession and the fact that we were pushing hard.
“[But] we conceded a goal which is one of those unstoppable ones from 20 yards which go in off the post and the crossbar.
“It was a very disappointing day, it’s always hard to lose games at home, it’s even harder to lose them in derby match and it’s exceptionally hard to lose them when for large parts of the game [we were] pretty much in control.”