Brighton reach semi-finals on penalties after dramatic comeback
FA Cup quarter-finals, The Den – Millwall 2 (Pearce 70’, O’Brien 79’) Brighton and Hove Albion 2 (Locadia 88’, March 90’)
Brighton & Hove Albion twice came back from the brink of defeat to beat Millwall 5-4 on penalties at The Den and claim their place in the FA Cup semi-finals with their reward a meeting with favourites Manchester City.
After Millwall had got themselves into a 2-0 second-half lead through Alex Pearce and Aiden O'Brien, the visitors launched a dramatic comeback in the dying seconds, first through Jurgen Locadia, then a howler from David Martin allowed Solly March to score a free kick.
It was the hosts who made the brighter start but clear-cut chances were few and far between. The closest Millwall came to a first-half lead was a Jake Cooper header from a set piece but Ryan made an easy save, while Lee Gregory’s dink went on to the roof of the net.
The pressure from the hosts finally told in the 70th minute, with Shaun Williams’ corner finding Pearce at the far post and the Irish defender headed home. Brighton appealed for a free kick as Cooper appeared to impede Glenn Murray but the referee was not forthcoming.
Millwall's English-born Irish defender Alex Pearce (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Millwall and Brighton and Hove Albion at The Den in south London on March 17, 2019.Getty Images
Nine minutes later, the lead was doubled after impressive work from Wallace, who squared it to O’Brien to tap it home.
Just as it looked as though Millwall could look forward to a trip to Wembley, Brighton struck back. March’s intercepted cut-back found its way to Locadia, who swivelled and volleyed brilliantly into the net.
Then, with just seconds remaining March overhit a free kick straight to David Martin, who failed to claim it and palmed the ball into the net to force extra time.
Millwall's English goalkeeper David Martin cannot keep a freekick from Brighton's English midfielder Solly March out, making the score 2-2 during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Millwall and Brighton and Hove Albion at The Den in sGetty Images
Brighton dominated possession in extra time but it was Millwall who came closest to claiming victory, with Ryan saving well from James Meredith’s effort. Glenn Murray, meanwhile, was denied a winner by an incorrect offside call from Sian Massey as Martin Montya squared it to the veteran striker. Meanwhile Shane Ferguson received a late red card for a horrible stamp on Lewis Dunk.
In the shoot-out Millwall took the early initiative as Glenn Murray hit the woodwork but Ryan saved from Romeo and Cooper blazed over to send the Premier League side to Wembley and a meeting with Manchester City after drawing Pep Guardiola's side after their dramatic victory.
The draw for the FA Cup semi-finals made on Sunday
- Watford v Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Manchester City v Brighton & Albion
The semi-final ties will take place at Wembley Stadium on April 6 and 7.
VAR controversies to the fore again: Brighton will feel that justice was served but yet again we are left wondering why VAR is available for some FA Cup matches and not others. The visitors would surely have had a penalty in the first half if the referees had the benefit of replays and Murray would have had a winner deep into extra time were it not for an incorrect flag. Had Chris Hughton's side lost, they would have every right to feel aggrieved.
Chris Hughton manager of Brighton and Hove Albion looks on during the FA Cup Quarter Final match between Millwall and Brighton and Hove Albion at The Den on March 17, 2019 in London, EnglandGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Solly March (Brighton). Thrown on as Brighton were chasing a path back into the match, the 24-year-old masterminded their comeback, providing Locadia with the first goal and taking the free kick which Martin fluffed to equalise. He was a constant threat and scored his penalty in the shoot-out for good measure.
Solly March of Brighton & Hove Albion celebrates after scoring his sides second goal during the FA Cup Quarter Final match between Millwall and Brighton and Hove Albion at The Den on March 17, 2019 in London, EnglandGetty Images
Brighton: Ryan 7, Montoya 6, Duffy 6, Dunk 6, Bernardo 5, Popper 6, Stephens 6, Kayal 6, Knockaert 6, Murray 5, Jahanbakhsh 5. Subs: March 8, Locadia 7, Izquierdo 7
70' GOAL!! Pearce sends the Den wild as he meets a corner at the far post, shrugs off the attentions of Dunk and heads home. We're 20 minutes away from a huge upset!
79' GOAL!! Millwall surely have an FA Cup semi-final to look forward to now! Wallace, who has been brilliant down the right picks up a loose ball and beats Bernardo squares it to O'Brien who applies the finish!
88' WHAT A GOAL!! March does brilliantly down the right and attempts to cut the ball back. His pass is cleared as far as Locadia, who turns and thumps a volley into the back of the net. Brighton are still alive in this cup tie!
Jurgen Locadia of Brighton & Hove Albion scores his sides first goal during the FA Cup Quarter Final match between Millwall and Brighton and Hove Albion at The Den on March 17, 2019 in London, EnglandGetty Images
90+5' INCREDIBLE!! What a time for Martin to make an error! March sends in a free kick towards the far post and the Millwall keeper pads it into his own net after a huge error of judgement! What a comeback!
119' RED CARD! Ferguson gives away a foul on Dunk then inexplicably rakes his studs down the back of the Brighton defender's calf. The referee doesn't hesitate to pull out a red card.
121' Cooper blazes it over! Brighton are through to the FA Cup semi-finals!
Brighton have reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second time in their history.
This was just the fourth FA Cup quarter-final tie to be settled on penalties