Graham Potter believes Brighton captain Lewis Dunk scaled new heights with his “amazing” performance during Saturday’s comprehensive 2-0 victory over Leeds.
Albion moved 10 points clear of the Premier League relegation zone after centre-back Dunk led the club to a 12th clean sheet of the campaign with an assured defensive display.
The 29-year-old repeatedly thwarted the West Yorkshire visitors, while a composed second-half chest back to Seagulls goalkeeper Robert Sanchez drew comparisons with AC Milan and Italy great Paolo Maldini from Amazon Prime’s commentary team.
Potter hailed the standout showing as Dunk’s best since he was appointed Brighton head coach in the summer of 2019.
“I thought his performance was sensational. I haven’t seen him play as well as that but he’s consistently played at such a high level,” said Potter.
“If you look at the clean sheets – I’m not saying it is totally down to Lewis and I am sure he would say the same – he has contributed in terms of the way he’s led that line, he’s been fantastic for us.
“He was amazing.”
Brighton’s first win in five games coupled with 18th-placed Fulham’s subsequent 2-0 loss at Chelsea made it a perfect day for Potter in the scrap for survival.
Pascal Gross’ early penalty opened the scoring at the Amex Stadium before Danny Welbeck put the result beyond doubt 11 minutes by firing home following a perfectly executed Cruyff turn as the ball dropped in Leeds’ box.
Former England forward Welbeck said his memorable strike came straight from the training ground.
“It’s one of those situations where you’re looking around to see what solutions you’ve got to the situation,” he told Brighton’s website.
“Once the ball is in there and I have seen where the defenders are, I was confident it would come off.
“You do it in training, so it’s nice to pull it off in a game. I am really pleased with the goal, I enjoyed it.”
Defeat in Sussex halted Leeds’ impressive six-match unbeaten run and dented their outside chances of sneaking European qualification in their first top-flight season since 2003-04.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men were comfortably second best on the south coast and, with Dunk on top form, struggled to create clear chances.
Winger Jack Harrison admits United must “improve on all aspects” of their below-par display but has not given up hope on a late surge for a Europa League spot.
“It’s just frustrating after getting a good few points and the last month to not come away with more,” Harrison told Leeds’ website.
“It’s something we’re going to review starting next week and we’ll be looking to improve on all aspects.
“It’s always good to be ambitious, I think we’re quite an ambitious team, we’re always pushing to break our limits and the European places are something we’re definitely looking forward to.
“But it’s difficult; we’ve had a great season so far and it’s hard to get caught up in everything.
“We’re not finished yet, we’re going to keep pushing right until the end and see how well we can do.