By firmly resuming their European push and making history with a 6-0 demolition of Wolves at the Amex Stadium, Brighton completed a challenging week on a high note.
Deniz Undav, Pascal Gross, and Danny Welbeck all scored twice to help the raging hosts destroy their opponents and record their highest Premier League triumph.
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 that keeps them looking over their shoulders in the battle to avoid relegation.
De Zerbi called for Brighton’s fans to be the 12th man after five successive games on the road. Fearing fatigue amid a hectic fixture list, the Italian made the drastic decision to begin with the influential trio of Moisés Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Kaoru Mitoma on the bench.
The surprising selection did not remain a talking point for long as the reshuffled Brighton, who made five changes in total, made a blistering start and led inside six minutes.
Joël Veltman’s low cross from the right was flicked on by Welbeck for Undav to slot home his first Premier League goal from the edge of the six-yard box.
After 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.
The second goal was scored in the 13th minute as Wolves carelessly gave up midfield possession, allowing Julio Enciso to advance and find Gross, who then lifted the ball high into the net past José Sá.
Lopetegui made three changes at halftime in response to a poor first quarter. Welbeck’s left-footed shot from the edge of the box found the bottom-left corner of the net minutes into the second period, indicating that the changes had little to no effect.
When Solly March was replaced, there was rousing applause because he had missed the crucial penalty in the shootout loss at Wembley the previous weekend.
In the 66th minute, the pitiful Wolves once more contributed to their own demise. Undav defeated the hesitant Nunes on the edge of the visitors’ box to sweetly dink over Sa, becoming the third Seagulls player to score twice.
Estupián and Billy Gilmour both came very close to making Wolves seem even worse. Apart from a shot from Daniel Podence, the opposition put up little of a fight before being booed off by their irate fans as the jubilant home supporters celebrated a record-breaking victory.