Brighton defeated Sheffield United 5-2 to advance to the FA Cup fifth round thanks to a hat-trick from Joao Pedro.
Although Facundo Buonanotte’s excellent goal had given the Seagulls an early lead, Pedro scored twice from the spot and crashed in an 18-yard drive. Danny Welbeck’s goal in the end sealed an overwhelming triumph.
Gus Hamer and Will Osula’s goals helped the Blades rally from a 2-0 deficit to draw even, but they were defeated by the superior squad at Bramall Lane.
Both teams lost in the competition’s semifinals the previous year, but Roberto De Zerbi’s team is hoping for another cup run while United can focus on attempting to prevent Premier League relegation.
Brighton had already had a goal disallowed for offside when they scored in the fourteenth minute with a brilliant move.
In the midst of the hosts’ half, Buonanotte scooped up the ball and ducked under a tackle before launching an incredible drive that went 25 yards and into the top corner.
If Jan Paul van Hecke and Igor Julio hadn’t heroically blocked consecutive shots from Osula and Hamer, United would have leveled the score four minutes later.
That proved to be crucial because Pedro’s brilliant move just before the half-hour mark saw him sprint into the area where Jayden Bogle clipped him, giving Brighton a 2-0 lead.
With his 16th goal of the year, the forward pulled himself up and scored from the penalty spot.
As Osula burst free down the right and his cross was palmed away by Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen and into the path of Hamer, who hammered home, Sheffield United pulled one back in the 42nd minute.
And they leveled the score in the eighth minute of additional time when Osula headed in Bogle’s cross from close range.
Drama continued in the second half as Pedro netted his second penalty, tapping home after Bogle fumbled a cross, giving Brighton the lead again seven minutes after the break.
On the receiving end of a fast counterattack, Bogle attempted to make apologies, but Pervis Estupinan stopped his goalbound attempt.
In the 67th minute, Pedro scored his first-ever hat-trick, ending the tie with a low shot into the bottom corner.
United never had a chance to tie the score, and Brighton took the lead early in extra time when Welbeck beat Blades rookie goalkeeper Ivo Grbic with a shot.