Kaoru Mitoma scored in stoppage time as Brighton knocked holders Liverpool out of the FA Cup with an impressive victory at the Amex.
With the game heading to a draw, Japan winger Mitoma produced a great piece of control before firing in from close range to stun the Reds.
Jurgen Klopp’s side, who were beaten 3-0 at the Seagulls two weeks ago, took the lead midway through the first half when Harvey Elliott slotted into the bottom corner from Mohamed Salah’s pass following a quick break.
However, Brighton equalised when Tariq Lamptey’s shot from distance deflected heavily off Lewis Dunk to fly into the back of the net.
It looked like a replay at Anfield would be needed to decide the tie before Mitoma stepped up to snatch another big result for Brighton.
Seagulls continue to defy expectations
It is testament to the impressive work done by Seagulls boss Roberto de Zerbi since his appointment that you couldn’t say with a degree of certainty which side was the favourite heading into this match.
Liverpool won the FA Cup last season but have endured a difficult campaign and went into this game as the side lower in the Premier League table – they are ninth while Brighton are sixth.
The hosts impressively outplayed the Reds on 14 January and clearly fancied their chances of another victory against them as they showed belief and confidence in this game.
Great defending by Dunk prevented what looked to be a certain goal for Salah early on, while Evan Ferguson then had a shot cleared off the line by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The hosts stepped it up after the break and got their reward for another hard-working display with Mitoma’s late winner, although the home fans’ celebrations were delayed as a possible offside was checked by the video assistant referee before the goal was given.
Mitoma is the latest star to rise at Brighton, who continue to impress despite losing Leandro Trossard to Arsenal earlier this month and with Moises Caicedo left out of this game following a bid from the Gunners.
A season of disappointment continues for Liverpool
A year ago there was talk of Liverpool potentially winning four trophies in one season as they found themselves fighting for honours in the Premier League, Champions League, League Cup and FA Cup.
In the end they finished with two, the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, but they are in danger of closing this season with nothing as they struggle to find the consistent top-level performances they have shown in previous campaigns.
Liverpool certainly looked better than they did in their previous visit to the Amex, with their counter in the first half a constant danger for Brighton, while Cody Gakpo showed promising signs of building up an understanding with Salah.
But ultimately they did not threaten the Seagulls’ goal enough as they finished with just two shots on target, while they were fortunate not to have been reduced to 10 men after Fabinho injured Ferguson with a nasty foul.
There’s still time for Liverpool to secure a top-four Premier League finish and success in the Champions League, but they will need to produce much better than this.
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