Danny Welbeck netted a sublime goal as Brighton took a significant step towards survival by ending Leeds’ six-game unbeaten run with a deserved 2-0 win.
The former England forward Welbeck rifled home 11 minutes from time at the Amex Stadium after executing a perfect Cruyff turn on a dropping ball to secure a precious three points for the Seagulls.
“It was a really good performance that ends in a result, so that’s great for us,” said Brighton’s manager, Graham Potter. “It was important for us to get the second goal because we’ve had a lot of times this season where we’ve been 1-0 up, playing well, but haven’t managed to get the second one which kills the game off.
“It was a great bit of quality from Danny to get it, so overall a fantastic team performance. It’s one of those moments when you are just sad that there’s not a crowd there to enjoy it live because it would have been an off-the-seat moment.”
Pascal Gross put Albion on course for only a third top-flight home success of the season by converting an early penalty after Ezgjan Alioski hauled down Welbeck.
Mid-table Leeds, who were without the influential Kalvin Phillips, had plenty of possession on the south coast but fell well below their dynamic best and created little.
Defeat for the West Yorkshire club brought to an end their best top-flight run since the days of David O’Leary in November 2001 and dented their outside hopes of European football.
The surprise absence of England midfielder Phillips was a major talking point before kick-off, while the Brighton defender Ben White returned from a one-match ban to face the club with whom he won the Championship title during a standout loan spell last season.
Leeds were back in Sussex for the first time since suffering an embarrassing FA Cup third-round exit up the A23 at League Two Crawley in January. Brighton won 1-0 at Elland Road six days after that match and began with the intensity of a team eager to ease relegation fears by recording a league double.
Trossard tested the Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier twice in quick succession in the early exchanges before the Seagulls ended a three-game goal drought to edge ahead. Alioski clumsily upended Welbeck in the area and Gross confidently found the bottom left corner with the resultant spot-kick, despite Meslier going the right way.
The visitors gradually worked their way back into proceedings but were extremely fortunate not to fall further behind five minutes before the interval following a defensive wobble.
A quick Pascal Struijk free-kick deep inside Leeds territory led to the under-pressure Diego Llorente being dispossessed by Welbeck and, after the ball was worked back across the area, Belgium forward Trossard somehow blazed high and wide with the goal gaping.
With Brighton having dropped 20 points from winning positions this term, Potter would have been concerned to see more chances come and go. Welbeck flashed a low shot across goal just before the whistle, while Joel Veltman rifled over immediately after the restart.
Leeds’ top scorer Patrick Bamford was isolated for much of the afternoon and was replaced by Rodrigo on the hour mark as Marcelo Bielsa sought greater spark in pursuit of a leveller.
Brighton’s inability to put the game to bed meant the result remained in the balance going into a nervy final quarter.
Stuart Dallas, who has seven goals for the season, volleyed narrowly over as Leeds briefly threatened to snatch a draw.
Albion fans were eventually able to breathe a collective sigh of relief just before the contest entered the final 10 minutes courtesy of Welbeck’s moment of magic.
Struijk hoisted a clearance into the air and, as he went to close down the loose ball, Welbeck expertly whipped it away from him with a deft touch before smashing low across goal into the far corner to claim his fifth strike of the season.
Albion’s welcome victory was a first in five games and prolonged Leeds’ 12-year wait for success in Brighton.