REPORT: OXFORD 2 ALBION 4
- Goals from Sam Adekugbe, Kazenga LuaLua, Elvis Manu and Tomer Hemed send Albion through.
- Wes Thomas and Daniel Crowley score for Oxford.
- Chris Hughton made 11 changes to the side that drew with Reading.
- Uwe Huenemeier made his first appearance in over eight months.
Brighton & Hove Albion secured a place in the EFL Cup third round after a hard-fought 4-2 win over Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.
A first Albion goal for Sam Adekugbe and one each from Kazenga LuaLua, Elvis Manu and Tomer Hemed ensured the Seagulls progressed to round three, with Wes Thomas and Daniel Crowley on target for the hosts.
Albion took the lead with just 68 seconds on the clock, as Adekugbe latched onto a through ball from Oliver Norwood and rifled home an angled drive into the roof of the net.
It could have easily been 2-0 just moments later when Jamie Murphy found LuaLua at the far post, but the Congolese winger fired his effort over the bar.
Kane Hemmings had the first chance of the game for the hosts, although his low strike was comfortably saved by Niki Maenpaa.
LuaLua turned provider for Norwood, but the latter’s shot rose over the target.
Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood then had to be alert to deny Manu and blocked the Dutchman’s effort from a tight angle.
Manu was involved in the action again for the Seagulls after he latched onto a perfectly-weighted pass for Norwood and shot a first-time volley over the bar.
Despite Brighton’s dominant start it was the U’s that struck next thanks to Wes Thomas with 28 minutes on the clock.
The forward equalised at the third attempt after being thwarted by Maenpaa and Adekugbe in his previous two shots.
LuaLua almost provided an immediate response for Hughton’s men as he raced clear down the left-hand side, only for Eastwood to make a good save.
Albion had a chance within two minutes of the re-start when Manu beat the offside trap, stepped inside the defender, but saw his shot saved by Eastwood.
Norwood came close for the Seagulls with a free-kick that looped over the Oxford wall and Eastwood was on hand to palm away the midfielder’s strike.
The U’s still carried a threat going forward though and Josh Ruffels played the ball in to goalscorer Thomas, but on this occasion he turned and shot wide.
Maenpaa then had to be alert to keep out a low shot from Thomas, as the hosts continued their bright start to the second half.
Huenemeier completed just over an hour on his return to action and was replaced by Tomer Hemed, as Hughton sought to re-establish his side’s advantage.
Manu came close to finding a second goal, but was denied again by Eastwood, who kept out the forward’s strike with his foot.
It was LuaLua who restored Albion’s lead in the 76th minute when he picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and fired a trademark strike beyond Eastwood.
It could have been 2-2 just moments later, but Maenpaa made a superb save to deny Ruffels before John Lundstram rattled the crossbar with his follow-up strike.
Manu capped off an impressive performance with a clever finish beyond Eastwood from Norwood’s brilliant pass in the 82nd minute.
Within seconds of entering the pitch, Sam Baldock played a key role in Albion’s fourth goal just four minutes’ later, as he slid the ball across for Hemed to fire home from close range.
Daniel Crowley took some gloss off the score-line in virtually the last kick of the game with a well-taken effort beyond Maenpaa, but Albion went safely through.