Evan Ferguson scored twice to send Brighton to their third FA Cup semi-final, ending Grimsby Town’s dream run at the Amex Stadium.
After the visiting goalkeeper had parried Moises Caicedo’s shot, Deniz Undav followed in to slot past Max Crocombe after six minutes.
Despite not being at their best, Roberto de Zerbi’s side maintained control throughout, and Ferguson added a superb second five minutes into the second half.
The 18-year-old Republic of Ireland striker stretched with his left foot to bring down Alexis Mac Allister’s clipped pass, set himself, and then stroked the ball into the bottom corner.
Ferguson scored his second goal on 70 minutes, Solly March added a fourth with a diving header, and Kaoru Mitoma’s deflected 90th-minute strike finished the scoring.
Grimsby had knocked out five teams from higher divisions to reach their first FA Cup quarter-final in 84 years, but the League Two side’s attacking threat was severely limited in the first half.
Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez appeared to pick up the ball outside his area while under pressure, but a VAR check determined that the ball was only on the line at the time.
Grimsby’s two chances came from substitute John McAtee, who tried to lift the first over Sanchez and saw the second pushed around the post by the Spaniard in the closing stages.
While the margin of victory could have been greater, with Mitoma missing a golden opportunity and Adam Webster hitting the crossbar, the Seagulls can now look forward to a trip to Wembley and their first semi-final since 2019.
Follow Brighton vs. Grimsby and the rest of the FA Cup action on Sunday.
Brighton’s fantastic season continues.
Brighton’s incredible season continues as they advance to the FA Cup quarterfinals.
It was a typically stylish performance from De Zerbi’s side, but it was clear, especially in the first half, that they have more to offer.
They were able to play within themselves against a Grimsby team three divisions below them, biding their time before spotting an opening and bursting into life with two or three short, sharp passes to cut through the defense.
“This Brighton side appears to be in full flow. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it to the semi-finals “Stephen Kelly, a former Tottenham Hotspur defender, stated on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.
“A fantastic day for Brighton, and they’ll be hoping for more in the coming months,” ex-Everton midfielder Leon Osman said on BBC One.
With less than two months left in the season, De Zerbi’s side is still in contention for a Champions League spot and is now just two games away from winning the club’s first major trophy. An already memorable campaign has the potential to become historic.
‘Ferguson is a legend.’
Although March and Mitoma were both on target and posed a constant threat down the flanks, Ferguson’s performance stood out.
For long stretches of the game, the striker was unassuming, not often directly involved in build-up phase play but creating space for others with his movement.
However, he was clinical in front of goal, with his first goal displaying the finish and technique that have seen him shine in this exciting Brighton team.
“This kid is a rock star. Honestly, “said Danny Murphy, a BBC pundit. “He has great feet and technical ability. He’s composed, commanding, and excellent in the role. He isn’t seen out wide; he stays in the center and is always a target.
“At the moment, I don’t see any flaws in his game. He plays with incredible maturity for an 18-year-old.”
Ferguson, who joined Brighton from Bohemians in January 2021, had made just four appearances – all off the bench – prior to this season, but he has rewarded De Zerbi’s faith in him since the World Cup.
“Playing in my first season here has been incredible,” Ferguson told BBC Sport. “I have to give credit to the lads; they’ve been good to me and have encouraged me when I’ve played.”
Kelly went on to say: “Ferguson has progressed from a peripheral player to leading the line for Brighton. He could even lead the Republic of Ireland’s line against France in a few weeks.”
Ferguson has a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks for both club and country, and based on this performance, the Irishman is just getting started.
“I think it was the manner in which he scored those goals, he was so composed,” Glenn Murray, a former Brighton striker, said on BBC One. “As a young player just breaking into the first team, you can seize those opportunities, but he just relaxes in that moment – and that is something you can’t teach.
“He has a good stature, and I believe he has big things ahead of him.”