An injury-time goal from Kaoru Mitoma sent Brighton into the fifth round of the FA Cup at the expense of holders Liverpool.
The sides looked all set for an Anfield replay approaching the final minutes of a contest that had earlier seen a Harvey Elliott opener quickly cancelled out by Lewis Dunk.
However, Mitoma produced a smart finish at the death to secure a second Seagulls win over Jurgen Klopp’s side in just two weeks.
It also likely ended any realistic hopes of the Reds lifting a trophy this season, just as matter of months after they came agonisingly close to a quadruple success.
Reds can cling to positives
As this game entered its 90th minute, it looked like Liverpool were heading for another creditable result with useful confidence-boosting properties as they continue to try and turn their season around.
Yet, while the concession of that late winner will change perceptions, Klopp has little choice but to cling to the positives from a painful defeat.
The main upside was the vast improvement in the Reds’ defensive structure compared to a 3-0 defeat (and it could have been more) at this very stadium just two weeks ago.
If Liverpool can continue in this vein then they will start to win games more frequently going forward, even if that is unlikely to mean much in this most disappointing of seasons.
Bajcetic shows worth again
One major reason for the Reds’ recent improvement, particularly in the centre of the park, is the emergence of teenager Stefan Bajcetic as a genuine option.
The Spaniard was once again hugely impressive here, snapping into challenges and using the ball intelligently in tight areas to neuter the Brighton press.
The value of his contribution was perhaps best underlined by the performance of the woefully off-it Fabinho during a late cameo that should have seen him sent off.
Bajcetic is now Klopp’s first-choice No.6 for one reason: he is a far better option there than any of his more senior colleagues.
Brighton’s dream season continues
Of course, while most of the focus will be on Liverpool seeing hopes of winning another major trophy go up in smoke, it is only fair to give Brighton their dues.
This game proved that their win over the Reds last time out was no fluke, even if they did not find it quite as easy to cut through their opponents in this latest meeting.
Many would have feared for the Seagulls after they lost Graham Potter to Chelsea, but it seems they have in fact improved under Roberto Di Zerbi.
There isn’t a side in England who will be happy to draw them in the next round.
Brighton vs. Liverpool as it happened, highlights
FULLTIME: All over at the Amex and Brighton march into the fifth round of the FA Cup at the holders’ expense thanks to that moment of late drama.
90th min (+2): GOAL! Mitoma has won it for Brighton!!!!!!
The hosts deliver a free-kick to the far post where Estupinan loops it back across to Mitoma and it’s unbelievable feet from the Japanese to cut inside with a bouncing ball and poking it high into the roof of the net.
VAR checks a possible offside for Estupinan but he is on and the goal stands.
90th min: Five minutes to be added on – can either side win this?
88th min: No further action to be taken by David Coote so a yellow card remains the call, but Ferguson looks in some pain as he limps off to be replaced by Undav.
86th min: Minutes after replacing Bajcetic, Fabinho catches Ferguson with a pretty grim-looking rake of the studs in a clumsy attempt to win the ball and he could be in trouble if VAR takes a look at this.
83rd min: Alexis Mac Allister down and receiving treatment after getting an almighty shove from Ibrahima Konate.
No foul, according to the referee, who would have had to send the Frenchman off as the last man there.
80th min: A clearance falls to Ferguson for a powerful shot at goal from close range but it’s an excellent block from Konate to deny him.
79th min: Thiago Alcantara making way for Curtis Jones as Liverpool make their fourth change.
77th min: Alisson charges out to play the role of sweeper keeper after a ball finds its way in behind. Plenty of time for a big push for a winner from either side here.
71st min: Huge chance for Brighton!
Mitoma picks out a beauty of a low cross from the left-hand side with the outside of his boot that March looks destined to sidefoot home but Alisson gets out quickly and does enough to block the shot.
67th min: Danny Welbeck makes way for Brighton as De Zerbi looks to change things up. with Billy Gilmour his replacement.