By Damian Spellman, PA
Alexis Mac Allister is hoping to add an FA Cup winner’s medal to the one he collected at the World Cup after helping Brighton ease their way into the fourth round.
The 24-year-old Argentina international came off the bench at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon to score twice in a 5-1 demolition of Sky Bet Championship promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough as head coach Roberto De Zerbi continued to ease him back into action following his exertions in Qatar.
Asked afterwards about his hopes of going all the way in the competition, Mac Allister told the club’s official website: “It would be nice. We know it is hard, but we will try.
“At the moment, I am living the dream. Credit to the team on Saturday, we played an amazing game and deserved the win.”
Mac Allister was given a hero’s welcome by his Seagulls team-mates and the club’s staff on his return from the World Cup, with footage of his reception shared widely on social media.
However, he revealed he had initially been handed a longer break.
He said: “I wanted to come back. The club gave me until January 5, but I decided to come back early because I wanted to train, I wanted to play, and I wanted to share my medal with my team-mates and with everyone at the club.
“After coming home from the World Cup, I received an amazing reception. I am so happy to be here and am very happy at this club and in this city. I just want to keep working hard and doing my best on the pitch.
“They know they have played a huge role in my journey to the World Cup. It is nice I can share it with my team-mates at the club and they deserve this as well.”
Goals from Pascal Gross and, after Chuba Akpom had levelled, Adam Lallana sent the visitors in at the break with a 2-1 lead, but it was Mac Allister who effectively put the tie to bed with accomplished 58th and 80th-minute finishes, the first of them an audacious flick to turn Pervis Estupinan’s shot past Boro goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
He said: “I don’t think he wanted to pass to me, but when I saw the ball coming, I just tried to score. It was a nice goal.
“Confidence is everything in a football player and my confidence is very high.”
Fellow substitute Deniz Undav added a fifth two minutes from time to complete a comprehensive victory, which Italian De Zerbi later dedicated to compatriot Gianluca Vialli, whose death at the age of 58 was announced on Friday.