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Yannick Sagbo’s late equaliser spared Premier League side Hull City’s blushes as they earned a replay against Championship promotion hopefuls, Brighton.
The Seagulls’ started confidently and were nearly awarded a penalty early on after Hull defender Maynor Figueroa was booked for a lunge on Leonardo Ulloa just outside the area.
Hull were clearly lacking the goalscoring prowess of new signings Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long – both of whom were cup-tied – and failed to create any chances of note in the first half, until Sagbo hit the crossbar from a Robert Koren cross, with goalkeeper Peter Brezovan beaten.
Jake Forster-Caskey – stepson of Brighton legend Nicky Forster – had the home side’s first real chance, latching onto Inigo Calderon’s cross but acrobatically struck the ball well over.
Almost immediately after, Brighton took the lead against the run of play; Will Buckley and Ulloa linking up well before the latter found space and dinked the ball over Scotland goalkeeper Alan McGregor.
Curtis Davies was unlucky not to equalise for the visitors as he hit the woodwork again with a thumping header.
Brezovan was a virtual spectator in the first half with Hull failing to settle and bring strikers’ Sagbo and Sone Aluko into the game.
Ulloa missed the chance to make it 2-0 just before the break; the striker’s close range header going wide with the goal gaping.
Tigers’ manager Steve Bruce brought on Matty Fryatt and George Boyd midway through the second half for a more attacking approach, however both sides were limited to counter-attacks and neither side could create any clear-cut chances.
With five minutes to play, Sagbo earned Hull City a replay as he brought down Sone Aluko’s lofted pass and fired through the legs of Brezovan; Hull’s only shot on target in the entire game.
Brighton, who had looked solid enough to hold on for the win against a weakened Hull side, almost allowed midfielder Robert Koren to win the tie late on, but Lewis Dunk’s superb last-ditch challenge ensured the scores stayed level.
Brighton will travel to the KC Stadium for the replay next week with the winners booking a quarter-final tie against Sunderland at the beginning of March.