Report: Albion 4 Huddersfield 1Leonardo Ulloa grabbed the first Amex hat-trick as Albion hammered Huddersfield Town 4-1 to stay in the play-off places.
The Argentine striker showed clinical prowess in the box as he helped Gus Poyet’s side to a third straight win and a fifth game unbeaten, securing a first win over the Terriers at home since 2002.
The January transfer window signing opened the scoring with a bullet header to give the Seagulls the lead, only for an acrobatic James Vaughan strike to level matters just before half-time.
However, a blistering five-minute spell in the second half obliterated all of Huddersfield’s hard defensive work, with Ulloa grabbing a second headed goal before tapping in to claim the match ball.
The highly impressive David Lopez scored his fourth penalty in Albion colours to compound the visitors' misery.
It was a positive start from Huddersfield as Albion struggled to escape their own half early on, but they first threatened on 15 minutes, as Will Buckley and David combined, with the Spaniard propping a cross up for the winger who could not get enough power on his header at goal.
Minutes later Ulloa met David’s corner but saw his diving header chested off the line as Poyet’s side started to take control.
Albion continued to press and Buckley’s stinging volley from the edge of the area was blocked, but the Seagulls regrouped and worked the ball down the left. Andrea Orlandi then provided the inch-perfect ball that was met by Ulloa at the front post to head Albion ahead.
Quick thinking from Buckley almost teed Orlandi up to extend the lead but the Spaniard was denied by Alex Smithies’ wonderful stop when through one-one-one.
Albion were popping the ball around with confidence and dominating their visitors by this point, and the Terriers were relieved to see Neil Danns escape with only a booking after a frustrated and reckless lunge on Dean Hammond.
But despite Albion’s level of control they were unable to find a second goal, paying the ultimate price just before half-time - Vaughan spectacularly levelling the scores with an overhead -kick as the Seagulls defence failed to clear.
Orlandi almost gave Poyet the perfect start to the second half as he flicked the ball up and nearly found the bottom corner of Smithies’ goal with a controlled volley on the turn; the effort dribbling just wide.
Huddersfield were content to sit deep and deploy a swift counter attack when they had the chance, but it was Albion’s continuing architect, Lopez, who came closest to crafting an opening just past the hour mark.
First, the Spaniard’s low drive had the beating of Smithies but not Peter Clarke on the line, before the former Bilbao man’s delightful cross was powered over by the head of substitute Ashley Barnes.
Further remarkable defending denied David as once again he found his way past Smithies with a low strike, only for Clarke to once again save his side with a sliding goal-line clearance.
But the Seagulls were not to be denied and Ulloa came up with the goods in the air once again, guiding David’s cross into the bottom corner to give Albion the lead.
And the Argentinean made Amex history when he capitalised on Clarke’s mis-control to round Smithies and tap into the empty net.
David capped off a breathtaking five-minute spell as Craig Mackail-Smith was brought down inside the box, and the midfielder tucked home the spot-kick to give Albion their biggest win of 2013.