Brighton ended a difficult week on a major high by emphatically reigniting their European push with a history-making 6-0 demolition of Wolves at the Amex Stadium.
Doubles from Deniz Undav, Pascal Gross and Danny Welbeck helped the rampant Seagulls rip apart Wanderers en route to registering their biggest Premier League success.
Roberto De Zerbi’s side came into the game having suffered an agonising FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester United last Sunday before a meek midweek defeat at lowly Nottingham Forest.
But the eighth-placed Seagulls stylishly set aside those setbacks to move on to a club-record 53 Premier League points – two below Tottenham in fifth – with a spell-binding performance in the Sussex sunshine.
The emphatic triumph was Albion’s greatest since returning to the top flight in 2017, bettering last season’s 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United.
Stunned Wolves offered little on a chastening afternoon as they slipped to a resounding loss which keeps them looking over their shoulders in the battle to avoid relegation.
Brighton boss De Zerbi called for Albion’s fans to be a 12th man following five successive games on the road.
Fearing fatigue amid a hectic fixture list, the Italian made the drastic decision to begin with influential trio Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Kaoru Mitoma on the bench.
The surprising selection did not remain a talking point for long as the reshuffled Seagulls, who made five changes in total, made a blistering start and led inside six minutes.
Joel Veltman’s low cross from the right was flicked on by Welbeck for Undav to slot home his maiden Premier League goal from the edge of the six-yard box.
Following a lengthy VAR check for offside, the strike stood before play was briefly halted again minutes later as Stockley Park reviewed a tussle between Diego Costa and Adam Webster before concluding the former was not guilty of violent conduct.
Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui this week claimed the Seagulls’ eye-catching style of play is the best in world football.
His lacklustre side were culpable of giving the swashbuckling hosts a major helping hand as Brighton’s rapid beginning swiftly turned into an unassailable advantage.
The second goal arrived in the 13th minute when Wolves sloppily conceded possession in midfield, allowing Julio Enciso to drive forward and slip in Gross, who lifted the ball high into the net beyond Jose Sa.
Gross’ second of the afternoon – in the 26th minute – was a stunner. The German midfielder sprayed a pass wide to Enciso on the left and, after receiving the ball back, unleashed a dipping volley into the right corner after his first touch looped into the air.
In between those strikes, Welbeck rifled over as he attempted to capitalise on a poor pass from Sa, while Matheus Nunes tested Seagulls goalkeeper Jason Steele during a rare attack for the shell-shocked visitors.
Former England international Welbeck would not be denied for long.
The forward increased Albion’s lead to 4-0 six minutes before the break by climbing highest at the back post to nod in Pervis Estupinan’s left-wing cross.
Lopetegui responded to a dismal opening period by making three half-time substitutions.
But the alterations had little, if any, impact and Brighton stretched their lead three minutes into the second period when Welbeck’s left-footed effort from the edge of the D found the bottom left corner.
Solly March, who missed the crucial penalty in last weekend’s shoot-out defeat at Wembley, then received a rapturous reception when he was replaced.
Woeful Wolves again contributed to their own downfall in the 66th minute as their punishment continued.
Undav became the third Seagulls player to claim a brace, dispossessing the dithering Nunes on the edge of the visitors’ box to delightfully dink over Sa.
Billy Gilmour and Estupinan each went close to heightening Wolves’ embarrassment.
Aside from an effort from Daniel Podence, the away side offered little resistance to being dismantled before being booed off by the disgruntled away end as jubilant home fans saluted a record-breaking success.