Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton heaped praise on his players for the character shown in today’s dramatic Emirates FA Cup quarter-final victory over Millwall, which saw the Seagulls come back from 2-0 down to win on penalties.
Albion found themselves two goals behind after goals from Alex Pearce and Aiden O’Brien, but Jurgen Locadia pulled one back before Solly March’s long-range free kick in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time.
Despite Glenn Murray hitting the crossbar with Albion’s opening penalty in the shootout, Maty Ryan produced an important save and Jake Cooper then missed in sudden death to end the contest.
Hughton reflected on the enthralling match at The Den, where his players never gave up and forced their way into the semi-finals of the illustrious competition.
He said, “The first word that comes to mind is character. Credit to Millwall, because for what they wanted to do, they did it very well today. Although we had a lot of possession, they restricted us to minimal chances.
“It was that type of game and it was about the team who broke the deadlock, because at 2-0 down we were going out of the competition.
“I felt that we could get one back because of the balance of play and the amount of possession that we were having, but to get two goals back in that last period showed great character.
“Missing the first penalty and them scoring their first, also shows wonderful character and composure from a group of players that desperately wanted to go through.”
Hughton introduced goalscorers Locadia and March in the second half, as well as Jose Izquierdo, and the Albion boss was delighted with the contribution from all three players.
“At that stage of the game, we were going to have a lot of possession. When you’re a home team leading the game, the inclination is to protect your lead.
“We knew we’d have a lot of the ball, but you need moments. Solly’s introduction changed the emphasis of the game a little bit and gave us more in the final third, and the same with Jose [Izquierdo].
“I was obviously really disappointed to go 2-0 down, but I thought the fortunes didn’t go with us. There was a foul for their first goal and [Martin] Montoya was onside for the cutback [disallowed goal].
“We needed something to go our way, and I suppose our second goal, which was a cross from a free kick, gave us that little bit of fortune.”
Shortly after the full-time whistle, the Seagulls were drawn against Manchester City in one of next month’s semi-finals at Wembley Stadium, and Hughton commented on the difficult tie.
“Of course we can [upset the odds], but at this moment we’re just delighted that we’ve gone through.
“I don’t think I’m saying anything out of turn when I say the three of us [Albion, Watford and Wolves] would have wanted to avoid Manchester City.
“At this moment they’re one of the best teams in the world and going for trophies in four competitions.
“But as was shown today and yesterday, teams can get close to upsets. If you have enough going for you, and the opposition don’t have one of their better days, then who knows what can happen?”