Roberto De Zerbi credited Brighton’s Wembley agony as the stimulus for Saturday’s history-making 6-0 Premier League demolition of Wolves.
De Zerbi hailed the finest performance of his managerial career after the ruthless Seagulls ripped apart Wanderers to emphatically reignite their European push.
Doubles from Deniz Undav, Pascal Gross and Danny Welbeck at the Amex Stadium paved the way for Albion’s greatest result in the top flight.
The thumping triumph moves the Sussex side on to 52 points – two behind Tottenham in fifth – to match the club-record tally, accrued in 1982.
De Zerbi felt his team’s stunning display was a direct response to the pain of last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out loss to Manchester United, which was followed by a meek 3-1 midweek defeat at lowly Nottingham Forest.
“I think it’s the best performance in my career as a coach,” said the Italian former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk manager.
“We scored six goals but if we speak about the level of the play, the style of the play, the quality of the play, I think we are playing a very high level of football.
“This victory started in Wembley, not today, because today we showed pride, we played well.
“We suffered a lot after Wembley because we deserved to win, we suffered a lot in Nottingham because we played the Nottingham game with the heads still in Wembley and today you watched the reaction.
“The players are not like the players on the PlayStation or robots. They gave soul, heart and in those five days they suffered a lot.”
De Zerbi opted to begin with influential trio Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Kaoru Mitoma on the bench due to fatigue fears amid a hectic fixture list.
But the surprising selection did not remain a talking point for long as the reshuffled Seagulls blitzed their shell-shocked visitors in the south-coast sunshine.
German forward Undav fired Brighton ahead in six minutes with his first Premier League goal before Gross’ brace and a Welbeck header made it 4-0 at the break.
Woeful Wolves were frequently exposed defensively and, despite making three changes for the second period, former England forward Welbeck claimed his second just after the restart before Undav’s delightful dinked finish compounded their misery
Wanderers boss Julen Lopetegui apologised to the travelling fans as he took responsibility for the humiliation.
The Spaniard conceded his side contributed to their own downfall as they slipped to an embarrassing loss which keeps them looking over their shoulders in the battle to avoid relegation.
“It’s a very bad day for us,” said Lopetegui, whose side sit eight points above the drop zone.
“I accept my responsibility today. We are sorry a lot for the fans who came here. I don’t recognise my team today, my players they are better than they showed.
“I am guilty more than ever today because I am the coach. In the same way, the players have to know they have to do better.
“I apologise for the fans. It’s a bad day for them. We play for them and we are very sad about the end (result).”