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Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Brighton and Hove Albion. The FA Cup Fifth Round.


Wolves 1-0 Brighton: Mario Lemina goal sets up FA Cup quarter-final with Coventry as Jason Steele has night to forget

Report as Wolves beat Brighton 1-0 at Molineux in the last 16 of the FA Cup to set up a quarter-final clash at home to Championship side Coventry City; Mario Lemina's goal in the second minute gave Gary O'Neil's side the lead and they held on for victory

Mario Lemina celebrates scoring for Wolves against Brighton
Image: Mario Lemina celebrates scoring what proved to be the winning goal for Wolves against Brighton

Mario Lemina's early goal sent Wolves through to the quarter-final of the FA Cup as they held on for a 1-0 win over Brighton at Molineux.

The victory was hard fought and sets up a home tie with Championship side Coventry City for the chance to go to Wembley - but Jason Steele will be ruing his evening.

It was the Seagulls goalkeeper's failure to claim a cross that presented Lemina with his chance after 78 seconds and Steele squandered his opportunity for redemption, skewing his shot wide after going up for a corner in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Player ratings

Wolves: Sa (6), Doherty (6), Kilman (7), S.Bueno (7), Toti (7), Ait-Nouri (8), Gomes (7), Lemina (7), Doyle (8), Bellegarde (6), Hwang (5).

Subs: Neto (7), Sarabia (6), Traore (6), Dawson (n/a), Semedo (n/a).

Brighton: Steele (4), Van Hecke (4), Dunk (6), Igor Julio (6), Gross (6), Moder (5), Peupion (5), Estupinan (6), Buonanotte (6), Fati (6), Adingra (7).

Subs: Welbeck (6), Baleba (6), Enciso (6), Baker-Boaitey (6), Barco (7).

Player of the match: Tommy Doyle.

How Wolves hung on to progress

Brighton beat Wolves 4-1 at Molineux in Gary O'Neil's first home game in charge, having dispatched them 6-0 in April too, but it was the perfect start for the hosts - gifted them by Steele. Jean-Ricner Bellegarde did well but the cross was a routine catch.

Instead, Steele spilt it awkwardly and Lemina was able to get the better of his marker at the second time of asking to hook the ball into the net while on the deck. It gave Wolves a lead to hold onto and set the pattern for the rest of the match.

Team news

Gary O'Neil made four changes to the Wolves team with Matt Doherty and Tommy Doyle among those coming in.

Roberto De Zerbi handed a first start to Cameron Peupion as one of five changes to the Brighton side that drew with Everton.

Roberto De Zerbi's team had their chances. Jakub Moder curled wide. Facundo Buonanotte missed the target with a header from point-blank range. But O'Neil's side defended doggedly and largely restricted Brighton to crosses from out wide, keeping them at bay.

The best opportunity fell to Steele deep into stoppage time. The goalkeeper is famed for his footwork at the other end of the pitch but he snatched at the shot when the moment came. It made for a miserable night for him and his team - with that Coventry tie the prize.

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It is Wolves who have seized the chance. It comes at a price. An injury to Hee-Chan Hwang saw him hobble from the field, while Lemina and Joao Gomes also appeared uncomfortable. That is for another day. The night ended with O'Neil punching the air in delight.

O'Neil: Fans will be dreaming of Wembley

O'Neil allayed fears over Lemina and Gomes but admitted that the injury to Hwang is a worry. "We are really hopeful it is not too serious," he said, before later joking: "At least I get to figure out who plays up front on my white board."

Speaking about the game itself, one in which Brighton had 72 per cent of the ball, he said: "It was tough, as we expected. We all know how Brighton play, one of the best sides in Europe with the ball, dominating possession most games. They are very good at it.

"We went at Brighton in the league but felt with the boys being as tired as they were, it was a conscious decision to make the pitch as small as we could, and we could punish them if they made a mistake in the build-up or leave one-on-ones on transition.

"We stifled them. We have not done it in the prettiest way tonight. We would love progression, to get it to the place where we can have more of the ball, be a bit more of the team that controls ball, but in the short term it was about the result."

Gary O'Neil celebrates after Wolves' win over Brighton
Image: Gary O'Neil celebrates after Wolves' win over Brighton

O'Neil acknowledged there were "a couple of scary moments" - never more so than when former Middlesbrough team-mate Steele had his late chance. But he credited the fans with helping Wolves see it out. "Their part in today's win should not be underestimated," he said.

"They will be dreaming of Wembley. I will be analysing Coventry."

He revealed that even before the FA Cup third-round tie against Brentford, he had told the players that winning the competition was the target. They came through that after extra-time in the replay before beating rivals West Brom in the fourth round.

"We have had to give a lot to get here. The lads understand the importance of it. Coventry will be a massive test. We will be expected to roll them over easily by everyone outside the changing room. Performing at 95 per cent even against Coventry will not be enough."

De Zerbi: We have a lot of problems

De Zerbi spoke of his pride at his team's performance even in defeat. "My opinion is that we played well," he said. "We made too many mistakes, especially in the first half, to score, the last pass, the assist, we made too many mistakes but created a lot of chances.

"Maybe on the numbers you can't understand how we played well because we shot not so many times but we played well [enough] to score. I am very happy with the performance, the style we played, the attitude we showed, the personality we showed.

Roberto De Zerbi arrives at Wolves
Image: Roberto De Zerbi was proud of Brighton even in defeat against Wolves at Molineux

"It is very tough playing without width. Nine injured players. We have to accept the policy of the club. We finish the game with [Carlos] Baleba, [Valentin] Barco, [Julio] Enciso. We have a lot of young players, very good young players, and the future of Brighton was on pitch today.

"Maybe they are not all so ready to compete for this competition at this level. But we are working well because we are keeping the same level of last season with a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of problems. You cannot imagine how many problems we have right now."

What's next?

Wolves travel to Newcastle on Saturday looking to keep themselves ahead of their hosts, who they lead on goal difference in the Premier League table, kick-off at 3pm.

It is a trip to Fulham next up for Brighton this Saturday, with the Seagulls keen to put the pressure on sixth-placed Manchester United and earn a third league win in five games, kick-off at 3pm.

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