Swansea City’s Carabao Cup run came to an end as Aaron Connolly’s first half brace earned Brighton a 2-0 win at The Amex Stadium.
The Swans were the better of the two sides early on and saw Liam Cullen, Korey Smith and Rhys Williams all go close to bulging the net.
They were punished for failing to take those chances as Connolly struck twice in the space of five minutes to put the hosts in command.
Smith hit the crossbar in the second half while Morgan Whittaker and Cullen had chances to get the Swans back into the contest, but there was to be no repeat of Saturday’s dramatic comeback at Luton Town as Swansea bowed out of the competition.
Russell Martin made nine changes to the side that started the dramatic 3-3 draw against Luton four days earlier, with only Liam Walsh and Williams retaining their places from that thrilling contest at Kenilworth Road.
Goalkeeper Steven Benda was protected by a back three of Ben Cabango, Brandon Cooper and Williams while Jay Fulton captained the Swans in the absence of Matt Grimes.
Joel Latibeaudiere and Jake Bidwell operated in the wing-back roles while Smith slotted in to midfield – with Whittaker and Cullen being handed the task of leading the line.
Both Martin and former Swans boss Graham Potter had plenty of positive comments to say about their respective opponents in the buildup to the contest.
With two similar philosophies and styles on show, the early stages of the showdown on the south coast of England proved to be open and exciting.
Whittaker had a shot blocked as Swansea forced the Seagulls into a mistake while Cullen got into some dangerous positions.
And while Swansea had to be brave in their own half at times, their boldness in attack caused the Premier League side problems.
Whittaker set Bidwell free on the left flank, and after his cross was only half cleared, Walsh picked out Cullen whose driven shot was well saved by Jason Steele.
Bidwell’s first time crosses were giving Swansea openings, and after Williams could only head straight at Steele from such an outlet, Smith headed wide from the penalty spot as the visitors continued to carry a threat.
After that flurry of openings, the chances soon dried up, although Swansea continued to create problems for the Seagulls while they showed plenty of composure and boldness in possession.
But, against the run of play, Brighton went ahead as Connolly found himself in acres of space, and his shot clipped Cooper on its way to going over Benda and into the Swansea net.
It was incredibly harsh on the visitors, particularly as Brighton reaped the maximum rewards from what was only their first shot on target in fortuitous circumstances.
And things turned bleak just five minutes later as Connolly once again ran towards goal before cutting inside and firing beyond Benda.
Connolly almost completed his hat-trick before half time, although he drilled Jakub Moder’s cross inches wide as Swansea trailed 2-0 at the interval.
Ryan Manning replaced Cabango for the second half, and, as they did at Luton, Swansea created chances immediately after the restart.
Latibeaudiere headed over from close range after Cullen’s deflected strike hit the crossbar.
And moments later, Steele palmed away Whittaker’s first time shot after slick buildup play from Cullen and Smith.
Swansea should have pulled a goal back on the hour mark as Brighton made a complete hash of clearing their lines, but Smith struck the bar from around 10 yards out to ensure his wait for a first goal in Swans colours goes on.
Smith and Walsh were replaced by Flynn Downes and Yan Dhanda soon after as Swansea attempted to find a route back into the game.
Pascal Gross hit the crossbar with a free-kick in injury time.
And, despite an encouraging showing, they were unable to reward the Jack Army with a goal as their focus turns back to the Championship.
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Brighton: Steele (C); Lamptey (Gross 46), Turns, Roberts, Burn; Leonard, Alzate, Moder; Richards, Mac Allister (Sarmiento 69); Connolly (Locadia 75).
Subs not used: Scherpen, Furlong, Offiah.
Goals: Connolly 33 & 38
Swansea City: Benda; Williams, Cooper, Cabango (Manning 46); Latibeaudiere, Fulton (C), Walsh (Dhanda 63), Smith (Downes 63), Bidwell; Whittaker, Cullen.
Subs not used: Webb, Rushesha, Laird, Piroe.
Yellow cards: Williams 43, Downes 73, Cooper 90+1
Referee: Michael Salisbury
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