Brighton 6 – 0 Wolves. Brighton reignited their push for a place in Europe next season by recording their biggest-ever top-flight victory at the expense of woeful Wolves.
The Seagulls remain eighth in the Premier League but are now just a point behind Liverpool in seventh and two behind fifth-placed Tottenham, who have played two games more than Roberto de Zerbi’s side.
Deniz Undav broke the deadlock with his first Premier League goal, before Pascal Gross made it 2-0 with an easy finish following Julio Enciso’s driving run and pass.
Gross doubled his personal tally in sensational fashion midway through the first half, controlling Enciso’s square ball before sending a swerving strike past Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa into the corner.
Danny Welbeck’s close-range header from Pervis Estupinan’s cross made it 4-0 before half-time, and the former Manchester United and Arsenal forward grabbed his second early in the second half after intercepting Nathan Collins’ misplaced pass.
Undav completed the scoring with another fabulous effort, dispossessing Matheus Nunes on the edge of the area and lifting a perfectly-weighted chip over Sa.
Wolves remain eight points clear of the relegation zone, but manager Julen Lopetegui will be alarmed at the manner of his team’s collapse on the south coast.
The emphatic victory ensures a positive end to a difficult week for Brighton, who lost on penalties to Manchester United in their FA Cup semi-final on Sunday before being beaten by struggling Nottingham Forest in the Premier League in midweek.
Manager De Zerbi responded to his team’s jaded performance at the City Ground by making five changes, leaving key players Kaoru Mitoma, Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo on the bench and handing rare starts to Undav and Billy Gilmour.
To say the Italian’s selection paid off is an understatement.
Brighton were able to carve Wolves open at will, forcing the visitors into errors and fashioning several opportunities to give themselves an even healthier cushion before the interval.
Welbeck was denied by Sa one on one before a dreadful pass by the Portuguese goalkeeper was slammed over the bar by the Seagulls striker.
Sa atoned for that error by keeping out Enciso’s curling strike from the corner of the area, while Solly March blazed narrowly over the crossbar as Brighton maintained their relentless assault on the Wolves goal.
Estupinan and Undav both had efforts blocked by Wolves defenders in the second half, while Gilmour was denied a first goal of the season when he struck the foot of the post.
With games in hand on fellow European hopefuls Liverpool, Aston Villa and Spurs, Brighton are well-placed to secure continental football for the first time in the club’s near-122-year history.
When Brighton won 3-2 at Molineux in November – hours after it was announced Lopetegui would replace the sacked Bruno Lage – Wolves were joint-bottom of the Premier League with 10 points from 14 games.
While the improvement since then has been stark, this was by far Wolves’ worst performance during the Spaniard’s stewardship.
Operating in a 4-3-3 system, the visitors were passive, disjointed and desperately poor in possession – and Brighton took full advantage in a startlingly one-sided first half.
Lopetegui brought on Hwang Hee-chan, Toti and Collins at half-time in an effort to stem the flow of goals, but there was little in the way of a response.
Both Brighton’s second-half efforts were appalling from the visitors’ perspective, with Collins and Nunes guilty of surrendering possession on the edge of their own box.
It would take an almighty collapse – and a vast improvement from several teams below – for Wolves to get dragged back into the relegation quagmire, but this was a defeat that will leave a sour taste for some time to come.
source – BBC