LuaLua is head over heels!
KAZENGA LuaLua’s Friday night somersault was one of both relief and elation as he netted the winner to ensure Brighton kept pace with a late play-off push.
LuaLua and Jesse Lingard scored as the Seagulls saw off a resilient Yeovil, relegating their visitors from the Championship in the process.
The 23-year-old’s cross-cumshot found the net just four minutes after he appeared from the bench to set Brighton on their way.
It was LuaLua’s first goal since May of last year and he marked the overdue effort with an acrobatic celebration – made famous by older brother Lomana – as the Seagulls guaranteed play-off interest in next weekend’s final-day showpiece.
“I’ve been waiting to do that celebration for a long, long time,” he said.
“Leo (Ulloa) was in the box so I thought I’d cross it for him but it missed everyone and went in, so I’ll take it. It’s my first goal of the season and it’s been a long time coming.
“It’s not about the goal though, it’s about the team performance and we dominated the game and played really well.
“We had to win if we want to finish in the play-offs so it was getting a bit nervous towards the end, but it was great to finally score and then Jesse’s goal finished it off nicely.
“It was all about putting pressure on the teams around us and we have done that. It’s coming towards the exciting end of the season and we have to keep digging away. Who knows what can happen, but we have to make sure we remain focussed.”
The visitors were inches from opening the scoring in the 18th minute when Ruben Palazuelos sent the ball crashing against the crossbar from 20 yards out.
And after Andrea Orlandi headed wide at the other end Brighton stopper Tomasz Kuszczak saved a low Sam Hoskins drive to deny the Glovers again. Joe Edwards shaved the Seagulls’ bar after the break with an 18-yard effort but LuaLua made Yeovil regret their misses 12 minutes from time.
His right-footed cross evaded everything but the net and onloan Manchester United striker Lingard made sure ofYeovil’s fate, meeting Solly March’s cross and steering home in added time.
The defeat confirmed Yeovil’s relegation, leaving skipper Jamie McAllister bitterly disappointed, but he was pleased to formally thank the travelling fans after the whistle – on the advice of assistant manager Terry Skiverton.
“It has been the story of our season, really,” said McAllister. “We contained them and played some good stuff when we had the ball.We had a few chances and hit the bar twice – they had a couple of opportunities as well – but it is just getting that goal.
“Most of us had got our heads around it (relegation) but for it to be final you could see the gaffer was a bit emotional – same with Terry and all the boys were the same.
“It’s just so close but not enough in the end. The boys are gutted but we go again and stick together.We have one last game to see if we can finish and win and get to 40 points.
“The fans have been magnificent all season – superb home and away.We appreciate them.”
LOOK AT ME LADS: Brighton’s Kazenga LuaLua after giving the Seagulls the lead
their fans DOWN: Yeovil applaud