Brighton 2 Newcastle 0
Brighton repeated last season’s FA Cup heroics by dumping an under-strength Newcastle out of the competition with Andrea Orlandi supplying an outstanding opener at Amex Stadium.
The first-half strike was born out of Wayne Bridge’s willingness to chase a seemingly lost cause, but it was Orlandi’s exquisite touch, turn and shoot that stole the show.
The Spanish playmaker was applauded by Brighton and Newcastle fans alike as he departed with half an hour to go having scored a goal that required repeat viewings to appreciate its brilliance.
The second was delivered by substitute Will Hoskins, who tucked home David Lopez’s defence-splitting pass, as the npower Championship play-off hopefuls completed a comfortable win.
Apart from their FA Cup failure at the first hurdle – last year they lost to Brighton in the fourth round – Newcastle were further frustrated by captain Shola Ameobi’s second-half sending off.
Ameobi was deeply unlucky to receive the second yellow from referee Lee Probert and will miss Saturday’s match against Norwich, leaving manager Alan Pardew short of striking options with Papiss Cisse injured and Demba Ba having joined Chelsea.
Newcastle have gone into freefall in the Barclays Premier League after losing five of their last six games, and sit just two points above the relegation zone.
A lifeless performance on the south coast will have added to the gloom at St James’ Park and it was not until deep in the second half, after Ameobi had departed, that they showed any urgency.
Depleted by injury, Pardew fielded a weakened side that demonstrated his priority is the Premier League.
The victory could be just the tonic Brighton need to revive the Championship play-off aspirations that have been dented in recent weeks while history points to a profitable cup run – the last time they beat Newcastle in the third round 30 years ago they reached the final.
From the start it was clear the Seagulls sensed an upset was on the cards when Dean Hammond fired a shot over the crossbar.
Lopez then showed superb control to keep in a long pass before crossing to the far post.
Gary Dicker was on hand to head the ball towards goal, but James Perch was able to clear and moments later Probert ignored a penalty claim from Orlandi.
It was all Brighton as keeper Rob Elliot, making only his fifth appearances of the season, plucked a powerful shot from Lopez out of the air.
Finally the visiting fans were given something to appreciate, Gabriel Obertan expertly weaving his way into before Gael Bigirimana tested Casper Ankergen with a rocket from 20 yards.
The match drifted into an uneventful period that was only broken when Orlandi fired Brighton ahead with a tremendous goal.
The sprinting Bridge skilfully collected a long pass from Gordon Greer and picked out Orlandi who took one touch with his left foot, turned and steered the ball into net with the outside of the same boot.
Obertan proved a handful once again as half time beckoned, but his final ball evaded his team-mates.
Newcastle replaced Mehdi Abeid and James Perch with Paul Dummett and Nile Ranger for the second half in an attempt by manager Alan Pardew to wake his side form their lethargy.
But Brighton still looked comfortable, a fact underlined by Orlandi’s elusive run around the area with only the final shot letting the Spaniard down.
Little was going right for Newcastle and the dismissal of Ameobi for his second yellow card – given by Probert for an innocuous contact with Dicker – left them a man down for the last half hour.
The visitors still showed flashes of determination, however, with Liam Bridcutt bravely hurling himself in front of a shot by Sylvain Marveaux and Ranger heading over the bar.
Newcastle were pressing hard for an equaliser, but they appeared to have run out of ideas as the final 10 minutes beckoned.
Instead, the second goal was delivered by Brighton with Lopez putting Hoskins one on one with Elliot and the substitute neatly tucked the ball home.