Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 3, Coventry City 1.
Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Coventry City
Record signing Jurgen Locadia scored on his Brighton debut as they beat League Two Coventry to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1986.
The Dutch striker, bought from PSV Eindhoven for £14m on 19 January, swept in Anthony Knockaert's low cross to put the Premier League side in front.
Connor Goldson then headed in a second from Markus Suttner's corner for his first goal since having career-saving heart surgery last February.
Just after the hour mark, Leonardo Ulloa headed a fine goal from Bruno Saltor's floated diagonal ball in, scoring for the first time since rejoining Brighton on loan from Leicester.
Jonson Clarke-Harris had headed against the bar for Coventry before Locadia scored, then flicked against the post just after Ulloa's goal.
And the forward, on loan from Rotherham, got the goal his display deserved by driving in after Goldson had only half-cleared a long ball from goalkeeper Lee Burge to make it 3-1.
One setback for Brighton was the loss of keeper Tim Krul to injury at half-time following a 27th-minute collision with Clarke-Harris at a free-kick, with Niki Maenpaa taking his place.
Locadia's lively start
Locadia arrived at Brighton with a reputation for making a fast impression, having scored a hat-trick on his league debut for PSV against VVV-Venlo in 2012.
His debut for his new club had been delayed by a hamstring injury, and he seemed eager to make up for lost time in a first half that could have brought him another debut hat-trick.
He produced evidence of his sharpness by hitting the post with a rising close-range drive in the fifth minute after Uwe Hunemeier had headed down a Suttner corner.
Locadia also took his goal smartly, although he will probably want to forget his air shot when Solly March's left-wing cut-back found him 12 yards out.
The former Netherlands Under-21 international had a couple more openings before half-time, just failing to reach Suttner's cross on the run, and then shooting straight at the keeper after being played in behind the Sky Blues defence.
It was Locadia's first match since December, and so it was perhaps understandable that his impact faded after half-time.
But he did enough in his 77 minutes on the pitch to suggest that he will be a valuable addition for manager Chris Hughton in the fight against relegation - and the push for Wembley.
Brighton avoid Lincoln repeat
Hughton's team were knocked out the cup in round four at non-league Lincoln last season, and might have feared a repeat when Clarke-Harris hit the bar early on.
Once they went in front, though, another shock rarely looked likely against a side who began the day 63 places below them in the standings.
Brighton's manager made nine changes to the line-up that had started their Premier League match at Stoke a week earlier, and those that came in were solid and professional in securing a quarter-final place.
The home side enjoyed 73% of the possession in the first half as they repeatedly threatened to undo their opponents down the wings.
All three goals came from crosses, with Goldson's header from a Suttner corner proving particularly popular with the home support.
The centre-back made his comeback in pre-season after having surgery to correct a swollen aorta, which he acknowledged could have threatened his life if left untreated.
He played his part in a comfortable home win that was secured by Ulloa's header, at which point Brighton began to ease up.
Even so, they might have had further goals, with Knockaert driving just wide and substitute Sam Baldock angling a first-time shot against the underside of the bar late on.
Coventry seek to regain league focus
Coventry's cup run has captured the imagination of their supporters but has arguably affected their League Two promotion challenge, with three successive defeats dropping them towards mid-table.
Manager Mark Robins, an FA Cup winner as a player with Manchester United in 1990, now faces the task of reviving their attempt to escape the fourth tier at the first attempt.
January's loan signing of Clarke-Harris will undoubtedly help, if his performance against Brighton is any guide.
The forward, back at the club where he started his career, combined well with the impressive Tom Bayliss as he glanced the teenage midfielder's low cross against the post with Coventry 3-0 down.
His goal was well taken, and a late run down the left brought a cross-shot that Maenpaa had to beat away.
Coventry have endured all manner of turbulence off the pitch during the decade-long ownership of hedge fund company Sisu, but will hope to restore some stability on the field now that their cup adventure is over.
Man of the match - Jonson Clarke-Harris (Coventry)
'Locadia has flexibility in his game' - reaction
Brighton manager Chris Hughton on Jurgen Locadia: "He hasn't played for close to two months and it was important he came through with no issues and looked quite strong.
"We are still learning about him. He has a flexibility in his game. He has not always played as a number nine; he played in a 4-3-3 at PSV on numerous occasions, sometimes in a wider area, and you probably saw that in his game today. To get off the mark in his first game I'm sure will give him a lift."
Coventry manager Mark Robins: "Rather than trying to park the bus, we wanted to try to take part in the game. It was important for us to do that, not just for today, because it's a big learning curve, but also moving forward in our league because we want to get promoted as quickly as we can.
"It was a positive experience even though we lost. It should give the players confidence knowing we can play and compete. We have scored goals against two Premier League teams and really could have had a couple more."
Ulloa bridges 1,386-day gap - the key stats
- Brighton have only lost two of their past 16 FA Cup home games (W9 D5), with both defeats coming at the hands of Arsenal.
- Coventry have won just once in their past 11 away FA Cup matches against top-flight opposition (D2 L8), losing the last four in a row.
- The Sky Blues have lost four consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since December 2016.
- Leonardo Ulloa scored his first goal for Brighton since May 2014 against Nottingham Forest - 1,386 days ago.
- Connor Goldson scored his first competitive goals since April 2016 versus QPR - 669 days ago.
- Jurgen Locadia scored on his Brighton debut, netting with his first shot on target for the Seagulls.
Brighton resume their bid for Premier League survival at relegation rivals Swansea next Saturday (15:00 GMT), when Coventry visit Mansfield in League Two.
- 26KrulSubstituted forMäenpääat 45'minutes
- 6StephensSubstituted forPröpperat 45'minutes
- 25LocadiaSubstituted forBaldockat 77'minutes
- 2GrimmerSubstituted forMcDonaldat 57'minutes
- 27BarrettSubstituted forBiamouat 79'minutes
- 10McNultySubstituted forPonticelliat 74'minutes
- Craig Pawson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 3, Coventry City 1.
Attempt saved. Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Markus Suttner with a cross.
Sam Baldock (Brighton and Hove Albion) hits the bar with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Solly March.
Uwe Hünemeier (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jonson Clarke-Harris (Coventry City).
Offside, Coventry City. Jordan Willis tries a through ball, but Maxime Biamou is caught offside.
Connor Goldson (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ryan Haynes (Coventry City).
Foul by Davy Pröpper (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Liam Kelly (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Sam Baldock (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Anthony Knockaert with a headed pass.
Substitution, Coventry City. Maxime Biamou replaces Josh Barrett.
Attempt missed. Anthony Knockaert (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Solly March.
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 3, Coventry City 1. Jonson Clarke-Harris (Coventry City) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Sam Baldock replaces Jürgen Locadia.
Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Solly March tries a through ball, but Jürgen Locadia is caught offside.
Substitution, Coventry City. Jordan Ponticelli replaces Marc McNulty.
Attempt missed. Jürgen Locadia (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from very close range misses to the left. Assisted by Markus Suttner with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Jordan Willis.