Glenn Murray came back to haunt his former club as he scored four minutes from time to end Palace’s interest in this season’s FA Cup as Brighton ran out victors on the south coast.
The Seagulls enjoyed the better of the first half and took the lead on 25 minutes when Dale Stevens drove home the opener, but Roy Hodgson’s team improved after the restart and a thunderbolt of a goal from Bakary Sako put the cup tie on a knife-edge.
However, Murray would come off the bench to score from all of a yard out to put the Eagles out, and with all the pre-match hype being about the use of video assistant referees, it wasn’t asked for once during the encounter despite some question marks over Murray's winner.
The only chance of a cagey opening saw Solly March nod a Gaetan Bong cross into the turf and force Wayne Hennessy to tip over, but following a first minute collision between Jeffrey Schlupp and Izzy Brown both teams were forced into early reshuffles as the pair became early casualties despite trying to play through the pain barrier.
After those stoppages had blighted the contest, Palace had a couple of glimmers of goal when Bakary Sako scampered down the right and forced Tim Krul to save with his feet before the ball fell to Andros Townsend but a diving Connor Goldson did well to block his on-target effort, but after those scares Brighton would go on to enjoy the more threatening moments of the first half and on 17 minutes the Eagles received a huge let-off when an unchallenged Tomar Hemed headed a corner straight at a grateful Hennessey.
However, seven minutes later they weren’t so fortunate as the hosts grabbed the lead. Ezequiel Schelotto received possession out wide and the right-back took his time before playing the ball into the on-rushing Stephens, and the Seagulls captain for the night continued his run to drive into the box before drilling the ball past Hennessey at his near post.
As the first 45 wore on, Brighton continued to look the more likelier to score but failed to test Hennessey again as Hemed headed over and then March saw a toe-poked stab goalwards trickle to the Welsh shot-stopper, but after the restart Hodgson’s team began much sharper and enjoyed a lot more possession and attacks in the final third, without forcing Krul into a save.
With 25 minutes remaining it looked as though Chris Hughton’s men would double their lead when Hemed turned and shot inside the box but saw it deflect just wide of the post with Davy Propper heading over the resulting corner, but midway through the second half a bolt from the blue drew the Eagles level.
There seemed to be little on when the ball ricocheted off Hemed and fell to Sako 35 yards from goal, but after he took a touch, he unleashed a piledriver of a shot that zipped past the outstretched Krul and smacked off the inside of post before finding the net in front of the ecstatic travelling support.
Four minutes later the same man was looking to add to his seasonal tally of five when he once again sped away from the home defence but lashed another fierce blast into the side-netting, but the cup tie was alive again and a minute later March got down the right before finding Sam Baldock who hit an upright, and after March retrieved possession he got to the byline before picking out Beram Kayal on the penalty spot who spooned his golden opportunity well over.
A much more entertaining second half continued with Hemed still unable to find the net as he hooked another attempt goalwards which fell straight to Hennessey, and Baldock also continued to be wasteful in front of goal as he was slipped in but blazed well over when one-on-one with Hennessey.
Therefore, Murray would be introduced off the bench and with four minutes to go would make the telling impact. A free-kick was clipped into the box by March and landed onto the head of Uwe Huenemeier, and he diverted across the face of goal where the poacher was lurking, who got the slightest touch.
Palace, and Hodgson, protested that it came off his arm before finding the net, but Andre Marriner didn't consult the VAR and the goal stood to send them out of the competition.
Brighton: Krul, Schelotto, Goldson, Hunemeier, Bong, March, Stephens (Propper 61), Kayal, Izquierdo, Brown (Baldock 6), Hemed (Murray 81). Subs not used: Maenpaa, Rosenior, Skalak, Dunk.
Palace: Hennessey, Fosu-Mensah, Kelly, Delaney, Schlupp (Souare 13), Townsend (Kaikai 45), Cabaye, McArthur, Riedewald, Van Aanholt, Sako. Subs not used: Speroni, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Milivojevic, Lee.
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