Sheffield United 2-5 Brighton: Joao Pedro scores first Seagulls hat-trick in thriller at

Handily placed in the Premier League, through to the last 16 of the Europa League and now in the FA Cup fifth round, Brighton’s march shows no signs of stopping.

Roberto De Zerbi’s men were made to work for this win, though, as Sheffield United displayed admirable fight and spirit to come back from two goals down and level matters before the break.

But the Seagulls, who reached the semi-finals of the world’s oldest and most famous knockout cup competition last season, showed their class with Joao Pedro bagging a hat-trick.

A stunning long-range strike from Argentina star Facundo Buonanotte put the visitors ahead and the scoring was completed by substitute Danny Welbeck’s clinical late finish.

That had the travelling hordes dreaming of Wembley glory in May and, for a club as ambitious and progressive as Brighton, lifting the FA Cup for the first time in their history would do just nicely this season.

Joao Pedro scored a hat-trick as Brighton beat Sheffield United in the FA Cup fourth round

Joao Pedro scored a hat-trick as Brighton beat Sheffield United in the FA Cup fourth round

They showed the quality in their ranks once again with this impressive display which had De Zerbi roaring his delight at pitchside.

Chris Wilder’s Blades can now focus on the drudgery of a relegation dogfight but for Brighton the possibilities are endless.

Goalkeeper Ivo Grbic was handed his debut by Wilder after arriving from Atletico Madrid earlier this week – and he was soon picking the ball out of the net thanks to Buonanotte’s beauty.

The 19-year-old collected possession 25 yards from goal and had the time and space to unleash a sizzling left-foot shot which flew into the top right-hand corner.

Yet Brighton’s slick passing came to the fore once again in the 29th minute as they doubled their advantage.

Pedro cleverly seized onto a neat touch by and knocked the ball past Jayden Bogle inside the penalty box, forcing the United defender into a clumsy challenge.

The referee pointed to the spot and, although it looked slightly harsh, Pedro stepped up to rifle home from 12 yards and put the Seagulls in control.

But Wilder has given United some much-needed steel since returning to the club last month and his men were back in the game in the 44th minute when Gustavo Hamer lashed home a left-foot shot from close range.

Towards the end of eight added first-half minutes, Will Osula was on hand to head home a right-wing cross from Bogle, sending Bramall Lane wild.

But Brighton regained control after the break as a handball from Bogle saw Pedro fire from the spot for his hat-trick.

He showed his class again with a superb low right-foot shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards to confirm the Seagull’s fifth-round spot.

There was still time for Welbeck to finish clinically late on, rifling in a low right-foot shot in front of the 3,000 travelling supporters.

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