Tottenham’s Premier League revival was halted in emphatic fashion after two Joao Pedro penalties and a stunning strike from Pervis Estupinan helped injury-hit Brighton record a thumping 4-2 win.
Spurs arrived at the Amex Stadium seeking a fourth successive top-flight success to reclaim fourth spot from reigning champions Manchester City.
But the north London club were ripped apart as Pedro’s double and Estupinan’s thunderbolt added to Jack Hinshelwood’s opener.
Tottenham, who claimed late consolations through substitute Alejo Veliz and Ben Davies, could easily have lost by more as rampant Albion twice hit the woodwork and had a Facundo Buonanotte effort disallowed.
Richarlison struck a post for the visitors and was twice denied by the offside flag, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg also hit the woodwork.
Yet, on this evidence, Champions League qualification looks a distant dream for Ange Postecoglou’s side, who had registered just one point from 15 before their recent upturn in form. Victory lifts Roberto De Zerbi’s hosts above Newcastle into eighth.
Depleted Brighton were missing eight first-team players while their visitors also had a lengthy list of absentees.
One-time Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck should have opened the scoring for Albion inside six minutes when he was twice denied by goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario, but the Seagulls deservedly edged ahead with 11 minutes on the clock.
Tottenham’s porous defence failed to halt Pedro’s mazy waltz across the 18-yard box and his offload was emphatically dispatched into the roof of the net by 18-year-old defender Hinshelwood.
Brazilian forward Pedro duly doubled the lead with a spot-kick awarded following VAR intervention.
Spurs thought they had escaped when Jan Paul van Hecke’s header from a Pascal Gross corner came back off the right post but replays showed Dejan Kulusevski pulled down Welbeck as he attempted to reach the rebound and Pedro coolly rolled home from 12 yards.
Stunned Spurs showed little response and were in danger of falling further behind. James Milner rattled the right post with a superb curling effort before Buonanotte’s clinical finish was flagged offside.
The away side almost gifted Brighton a third when Pedro was sent through by a calamitous back-pass from Pedro Porro, only to see his attempted dink pushed wide by Vicario.
Postecoglou would undoubtedly have been happy to reach the break only two behind, albeit his side’s predicament nearly improved as Richarlison swept against the outside of the left post in added time.
The Brazilian then put the ball in the net having already been ruled offside and then curled wide before again being denied by the flag of assistant referee Darren Cann.
Tottenham’s frustration was quickly compounded. Seagulls substitute Estupinan, making his first appearance since November 9 due to injury, did the damage, unleashing a thunderous, dipping effort into the top right corner from around 25 yards following Milner’s short corner.
Tormentor-in-chief Pedro rubbed salt into Spurs’ wounds 15 minutes from time by dispatching his second penalty after Evan Ferguson was brought down by Giovani Lo Celso.
Veliz’s first goal in English football, after Kulusevski and Son Heung-min capitalised on sloppy Seagulls defending, eased the embarrassment before Davies’ header from a Porro cross increased the anxiety among home fans.
But Brighton weathered a frantic nine minutes of added time, during which Hojbjerg hit the base of the right post, to claim the points.