- Albion knock out reigning Premier League 2 champions Everton
- The Seagulls are unbeaten in 11 games
- The Seagulls reach the quarter-final stage of the competition
- Jiri Skalak, Aaron Connolly and Viktor Gyokeres with the goals
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s sealed an impressive 3-0 victory over the reigning Premier League 2 champions, Everton, to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup this afternoon.
Goals from Jiri Skalak and Aaron Connolly gave Simon Rusk’s team a 2-0 lead at the break, and Viktor Gyokeres struck late on to round off a brilliant display from the Seagulls at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.
It took 11 minutes for either side to have a shot on goal as Everton captain Anthony Evans warmed the gloves of Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, but the first big chance came for the away side in the 23rd minute.
Alex Denny did well to beat his man and his cross found Shayne Lavery inside the six-yard box, but the latter fluffed his lines and put the ball wide when it looked easier to score, and his miss was punished by the home side just five minutes later.
Fraser Hornby went into the book for a late challenge on Ales Mateju and Albion’s quick restart found George Cox on the left wing, and after having his first cross blocked, he made no mistake on the rebound, as he fired a pinpoint pass into Jiri Skalak, who broke the deadlock in the 28th minute.
It was 2-0 just seven minutes later as Everton failed to clear a deep cross and Aaron Connolly tapped home from close range - to extend his goalscoring tally for the season on the south coast.
Mateju also made his way into the referee’s notebook with a late challenge, before Connolly had two good chances to finish the game before half-time.
Henrik Bjordal almost found the striker with a square pass before some wonderful skill from the number ten ended with his volley skimming the crossbar.
Everton made a double change at the break as Bassala Sambou and Jose Baxter came on for Hornby and Lavery, as the Toffees tried to work a route back into the game.
Sanchez was equal to goal-bound strikes by Conor Grant and Josh Bowler, and that prompted Everton’s final change as Nathangelo Markelo made way for Daniel Brammall.
Connolly continued to link up with Skalak as two great crosses from the latter were almost put away, but one drifted wide and another was claimed by Everton keeper Mateusz Hewelt.
Moments after Bjordal was booked in the 86th minute, a misplaced pass by Everton was snatched by Connolly, and the goalscorer turned provider by sliding the ball to Gyokeres, who finished off the scoring from inside the area.
Albion's stunning victory stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 11 matches, and Rusk’s side will now wait to find out who their opponents are in the final eight of the competition.
ALBION: Sanchez; Mateju, Barclay, Dallison, Cox; Skalak, Alzate, J.Davies, Bjordal; Connolly (Radulovic 90+1), Gyokeres.
Subs not used: Collings (GK), Moore, Tilley, Mandroiu.