Brighton dumped FA Cup holders Liverpool out of the competition on Sunday as Hollywood star and Wrexham owner Ryan Reynolds saw his non-league side denied a dramatic win by Sheffield United in a six-goal thriller.
Kaoru Mitoma’s brilliant control and stoppage-time finish to seal a 2-1 win was another huge blow to Liverpool, whose season is quickly unraveling just months after they came close to winning a historic four-way victory.
The Reds had led at the Amex through Harvey Elliott, but now won just once in their past six games in all competitions.
Lewis Dunk equalized for the home side before the break and they more than earned their place in the fifth round thanks to a magical moment from Mitoma.
The Japanese winger muffled Pervis Estupinan’s cross in his path, shot the ball over Joe Gomez and shot high past Alisson Becker in the 92nd minute.
“He’s an incredible player who I think can play a step up,” said Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi. “I’m happy with his goal.”
Liverpool languishes in ninth place in the Premier League, 21 points behind pacesetter Arsenal.
An exit from the FA Cup leaves the Champions League as their only chance for a trophy this season.
Jurgen Klopp described Brighton’s 3-0 win when the sides met earlier this month as a “horror show”.
And the German coach at least took some courage from Sunday’s combative performance of his era.
“I’m not over the moon about this performance, but again, all that really happened is that we lost to a good side, who we lost to in a horrible game two weeks ago,” Klopp said. “Today was much better.
“We are clearly in a situation where we constantly want to take the last step. That’s why it feels extra bad right now because it didn’t happen.”
The hosts were without Moises Caicedo after the Ecuadorian took to social media on Friday to try to push through a move to Arsenal.
Brighton has already lost Leandro Trossard, who scored a hat-trick against Liverpool earlier this season, to The Gunners this month.
But those absences were not visible as Liverpool continued to ride their luck for much of the second period.
Ibrahima Konate and Fabinho were very lucky to escape red cards for challenges on Alexis Mac Allister and Evan Ferguson.
Alisson threw himself in front of Solly March to make a brilliant save from Mitoma’s inventive cross and Konate also blocked from Ferguson.
But Brighton’s pressure finally paid off as Mitoma scored his fourth goal in six games.
– Wrexham heartbreak –
Wrexham are the last non-league club left in the league, but were disappointed when John Egan made it 3-3 for the 10-man Blades in the dying seconds.
The hosts could not have started worse as Oli McBurnie headed Sheffield United ahead after 61 seconds.
Paul Heckingbottom’s appearance is primed for a return to the Premier League next season, but they were rocked by a pulsating atmosphere at the Racecourse Ground.
James Jones and Thomas O’Connor struck within 11 minutes early in the second half to turn the score.
Oli Norwood quickly drew level, but momentum swung again to Wrexham as Daniel Jebbison was sent off 20 minutes from time.
Paul Mullin looked to have taken the shock off the round four minutes from time with a quiet finish, only for Egan to break Wrexham’s hearts by turning home a corner at death.
Mullin said he was “very disappointed” that he conceded so late.
“I’m so proud of everyone,” he said. “We worked so hard to get here. We came into the game thinking we could win and we had a game plan. Unfortunately it didn’t pay off but I think when the dust settles tomorrow we’ll be there will be proud of.” .”
Stoke reached the last 16 with a 3-1 win over Stevenage.
There were no shocks in Saturday’s action, with all Premier League teams progressing to the fifth round, with the exception of Fulham, who were held 1-1 by Championship side Sunderland.
Manchester City beat Arsenal 1-0 on Friday to progress, while Derby must face struggling West Ham on Monday.