Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi hails 'unique' striker Evan Ferguson after Stoke win

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The Seagulls' 1-0 win at Stoke saw Ferguson finish from close range on the half-hour mark at the end of a fine move. It was a fifth goal of the season for the 18-year-old Republic of Ireland international and fourth in his last nine appearances. And De Zerbi said of Ferguson: "He is unique for us in terms of quality, in terms of characteristic. He knows very well the way to score. "I think he can and he has to improve, in the quality of play, in ball possession, to keep the ball better. "But he is 18, he is (born in) 2004, and he will improve for sure, because I know the guy, I know his passion, his attitude, and I have no doubt."

Ferguson's goal was set up by a pass from Kaoru Mitoma following an excellent through-ball by Lewis Dunk, the Brighton skipper making his 400th appearance for the club. De Zerbi labelled Dunk "an incredible player, incredible guy", and also had praise for first-time starter Facundo Buonanotte, another 18-year-old, saying of the Argentinian midfielder signed in January: "I think he played a good game. I'm sure he can become a great player for us for the future." Winning the FA Cup would bring a first major trophy in the history of Brighton, who, at eighth, are currently higher in the Premier League than they have finished in any previous season. "I can promise nothing but I can promise every day we work hard to make them (the supporters) happy and proud of their team, their club - only this," said the Italian. "I understand they want to win the trophy, and we also want to win, but to win, we need to work, to improve and to believe. But for the moment we have to think only of West Ham (who Brighton host in the league on Saturday), because we have the possibility to arrive in Europe." De Zerbi felt his side were "deserved" winners of a contest that saw them almost add a second in stoppage time when substitute Danny Welbeck hit a post. Stoke, who are 17th in the Championship, went close to equalising in the 65th minute through on-loan Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe. Tuanzebe, signed last month, was starting a match for the first time since January 2022, when he was on loan at Napoli.

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