Knockaert the hero as Brighton win thriller
Anthony Knockaert scored a dramatic late winner as Brighton leapfrogged Newcastle to go top of the Championship with a bad-tempered 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
Knockaert settled the issue five minutes from time to give the Seagulls their fifth successive home win in all competitions.
The French winger drove Albion ahead but Wednesday drew level before the interval when Lewis Dunk put through his own goal.
Albion were reduced to 10 men when Glenn Murray was red-carded for handball - but Fernando Forestieri's resulting penalty met with a brilliant double save by keeper David Stockdale.
Knockaert had the final say before Wednesday had both Steven Fletcher and Sam Hutchinson sent off in the closing stages.
Brighton, who suffered a play-off exit at the hands of Wednesday last season, came close to going in front in only the second minute.
Former Leicester winger Knockaert brilliantly beat two defenders before delivering the perfect ball to Murray, whose goalbound shot was superbly parried by keeper Keiren Westwood.
The Seagulls went into the game without skipper Bruno Saltor, whose run of 74 successive league games was ended by a calf injury.
Boss Chris Hughton made five changes and central defender Dunk returned from suspension while Tomer Hemed, Dale Stephens, Sebastien Pocognoli and Jamie Murphy were all called up.
Knockaert again threatened midway through the half, forcing Westwood to block his low shot with advancing Albion attackers unable to get the second ball.
The Owls threatened for the first time in the 25th minute when a low shot on his favoured left foot by Adam Reach drew a good one-handed save from keeper Stockdale.
Wednesday were forced into a change when defender Jack Hunt had to be stretchered off after being hurt in a challenge by Pocognoli, who received a booking.
Brighton broke the deadlock 11 minutes before the break in a swift counter-attack
Hemed set it up with a strong run from the halfway line and from his weighted pass, Knockaert scored with an angled shot.
Wednesday drew level on the stroke of half-time when striker Forestieri crossed smartly with the outside of his right boot and the ball was diverted towards goal by Oliver Norwood into the path of Dunk, who headed into his own net.
Albion should have regained the lead nine minutes after the break when record signing Shane Duffy wastefully headed over from six yards following a free-kick from Norwood.
Former Sheffield United winger Murphy should have done better for the hosts five minutes later when his tame header from eight yards was saved after a Knockaert cross.
The match burst to life when Brighton striker Murray received a straight red card for handling a goalbound shot from Glenn Loovens in an incident that led to Wednesday being awarded a penalty.
Forestieri stepped up to take the spot-kick and keeper Stockdale denied the striker, first diving to his right to parry his initial attempt and then breathtakingly keeping out the rebound with a fingertip save low to his left.
Knockaert swooped to give Brighton victory five minutes from time, stretching at the far post to prod home his second goal following a delightful cross from Pocognoli.
Wednesday had substitute Fletcher sent off a minute from time when he received a straight red card for a flare-up with Stephens, and Carlos Carvalhal's side ended the match with nine men when Hutchinson received a second booking for a studs-up challenge on Solly March.
Source : PA