Joao Pedro’s hat-trick sent Brighton through to the FA Cup fifth round with a 5-2 win at Sheffield United.
Pedro scored twice from the spot and crashed in an 18-yard drive after Facundo Buonanotte’s fine goal had given the Seagulls an early lead, with Danny Welbeck scoring at the death to seal an emphatic victory.
The Blades had battled back from 2-0 down to level thanks to goals from Gus Hamer and Will Osula but they lost to the better team at Bramall Lane.
Both sides were beaten semi-finalists in last year’s competition but it is Roberto De Zerbi’s side who are dreaming of another cup run while United can concentrate on trying to avoid Premier League relegation.
Brighton had already seen a goal chalked out for offside when they went ahead in sublime fashion in the 14th minute.
Buonanotte picked the ball up in the middle of the hosts’ half and jinked past a tackle before unleashing an unstoppable drive that found the top corner from 25 yards.
United would have been level four minutes later had it not been for some heroic defending from Jan Paul van Hecke and Igor Julio as they blocked shots from Osula and Hamer in quick succession.
That proved important as Brighton went 2-0 up just before the half-hour as a fine piece of skill from Pedro saw him burst into the area where he was clipped by Jayden Bogle.
The striker picked himself up and converted from the spot for his 16th goal of the season.
Sheffield United got one back in the 42nd minute when Osula broke clear down the right and his cross was palmed out by Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen straight into the path of Hamer, who fired home.
And in the eighth minute of time added on they got themselves level as Osula headed home Bogle’s cross from close range.
The drama continued in the second half as Brighton regained the lead seven minutes after the restart as Pedro scored his second penalty, stroking home after Bogle handled a cross.
Bogle tried to make amends at the other end as he was on the end of a lightning counter attack but saw his goalbound effort blocked by Pervis Estupinan.
Pedro claimed his first career hat-trick in the 67th minute, killing the tie with a low finish into the bottom corner.
United never threatened to get back into the game and Brighton made it five deep into added time when Welbeck fired under Blades debutant goalkeeper Ivo Grbic.