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Brighton & Hove Albion reignited their play-off hopes after producing a spectacular display to sweep aside Premier League-bound Leicester City 4-1 at the King Power Stadium.
Stephen Ward got the evening’s events underway with a 17th minute header before Jesse Lingard made it two shortly after. Leo Ulloa sealed the points with two goals in the second half before a late Gary Taylor-Fletcher strike for the hosts.
There was a carnival atmosphere at a bustling stadium following Leicester’s promotion to the top flight on Saturday, and Kevin Phillips had the first sniff of goal but was unable to apply the finishing touch to Paul Konchesky’s inviting cross.
Albion’s first forward foray was through Kazenga LuaLua, as the Congolese winger turned Inigo Calderon’s cross over the bar, but Ward was on hand just moments later to give Albion the lead - the Irishman stooping to head home Dale Stephens’s corner to dampen the party mood inside the ground.
And a mere seven minutes later the Seagulls showed the sort of ruthlessness that has been missing in recent weeks, as this time Ward turned provider and his cross was met by the arriving Lingard who powered a header past the helpless Kasper Schmeichel.
Ulloa nearly made the first 30 minutes the stuff of dreams as he latched onto a poor back pass but placed his strike just wide.
Nigel Pearson’s men came out looking to claw a goal back and former Albion striker Chris Wood struck the post straight after the interval but the Seagulls then came agonisingly close to adding third. Calderon and Stephens combined before the latter dinked the ball over Schmeichel, only for Marcin Wasilewski to clear the ball off the line.
But there was nothing the hosts could do to stop Brighton’s top scorer Ulloa; the forward latching onto Stephens’s excellent lofted through ball, before rounding Schmeichel and firing into the far corner.
Moments later Solly March picked out the Argentinian but this time Schmeichel foiled the striker. However, the South American had the last laugh as his 80th minute header made it 4-0 to the rampant Seagulls before substitute Taylor-Fletcher buried a late consolation from Lloyd Dyer’s cross.
The victory, allied to Reading’s 3-1 defeat at Bournemouth, leaves Oscar's men just two points outside the top six with five games to play.