Albion ’s Europa League adventure will continue into the New Year – thanks to their prime source of Group B goals and a whole lot of character.

Joao Pedro forced and converted the 55th-minute spot-kick which secured this most hard-fought of wins.

The Seagulls rode their luck late in the first half but showed enormous character to carve out this result with an injury-hit squad.

Kaoru Mitoma started for Albion in Athens having sat out the weekend win at Nottingham Forest.

Jack Hinshelwood was also in the side at left-back while Mahmoud Dahoud, perhaps surprisingly given he is not currently available in the Premier League, had to settle for a place on the bench.

Igor, who was not risked at Forest, took his place in defence with Adam Webster injured and Jan Paul van Hecke serving a European suspension for three yellow cards.

AEK kept forwards Ezequiel Ponce and Sergio Araujo on the bench and asked Steven Zuber to lead their attack.

Albion fans could be heard in their corner section from early on but the home hordes turned up the volume as kick-off neared – and the announcer looked to whip them into a frenzy.

The visitors should have had a dream start.

Simon Adingra’s elusive run cutting in from the right in his own half got them moving.

Mitoma sent Evan Ferguson breaking into the box to the left of goal.

His first effort was saved by Cican Stankovic and the second blocked behind.

The corner from Pascal Gross was headed back across goal by Lewis Dunk and Ferguson could not quite get there.

After a loose touch from Dunk, Zuber saw his shot saved after a one-two.

Then came even looser from Domagoj Vida, who almost beat his own keeper with a back pass.

Adingra twisted and turned but fired over in what was a lively start – but a promising start for the Seagulls.

But AEK responded – lifted by a moment of skill from Ehsan Hajsafi which brought a yellow card for Joel Veltman.

Orbelin Pineda crashed a shot wide, then saw his gentle header held by Bart Verbruggen after Nordin Amrabat got away from Hinshelwood and crossed.

The noise increased. AEK were now the sharper side.

A shot was blocked by Dunk, then Verbruggen fumbled from Pineda but no one was there to profit.

Joao Pedro was playing as the No.9 with Ferguson deeper and Albion seemed to think they could get in behind the hosts. The spaces were there.

But AEK, for whom Mijat Gacinovic hit the side-netting and was later booked for clipping Adingra, were asking most of the questions.

After a poor pass from Gross in his own half, AEK broke at pace and Verbruggen pushed over a Zuber blast.

The corner was flicked on by Zuber and flashed across goal.

It was turning into a real test for the Seagulls, who were being dominated and unsettled in a manner to which they are not accustomed.

Pineda was allowed to run a long way on the left but dragged his shot wide of the near post.

As Albion finally enjoyed a bit of possession, Igor saw a strong run halted by Vida’s tackle on the edge of the box.

But AEK produced a huge finish to the half which should have brought them the lead they deserved.

After a poor pass by Billy Gilmour, Zuber rattled the post and Gacinovic headed the rebound over a gaping goal.

Verbruggen held a header and then Dunk twice blocked in a hectic goalmouth scene.

Albion have never felt more relieved to hear a half-time whistle – if they even heard it amid the din.

Verbruggen put up a strong right arm to parry from Gacinovic early in the second half.

But it was the Seagulls who made the breakthrough.

Joao Pedro appeared to have been clipped by Damian Szymanski as he broke into the box, but referee Sandro Scharer was right there and waved pay on.

A pitchside check led to him changing his mind and Joao Pedro did the rest.

AEK went down to ten on 65 minutes after there was a great challenge by Veltman on the edge of the box on Gacinovic, who followed through and saw a second yellow.

A triple change by the hosts included the introduction of strikers Ezequiel Ponce and Sergio Araujo.

Ferguson should have made it 2-0 when he was sent clean through but could not take the ball around the keeper – with Adingra then shooting wide of the near post.

Albion’s late changes included the introduction of young frontrunner Joshua Duffus, who played his part.

It was a night he and no one else will forget.

AEK Athens: Stankovic; Rota, Vida, Moukoudi, Hajisafi; Szymanski; N Amrabat (Eliasson 72), Mantalos (Araujo 72), Pineda (Pizarro 83), Gacinovic; Zuber (Ponce 72).

Subs: Mohammadi, Mitoglou, Sidibe, Athanasiasdis, Ginis.

Yellow card: Gacinovic, Zuber. Sent off: Gacinovic 65.

Albion: Verbruggen; Veltman, Dunk, Igor, Hinshewood 35; Gross, Gilmour (Baleba 88); Adingra, Ferguson (Duffus 88), Mitoma (Dahoud 69); Joao Pedro (Milner 77).

Subs: Steele, McGill, Buonanotte, Hinchy, Chouchane, Jackson, Kavanagh.

Goals: Joao Pedro 55 pen.

Yellow card: Veltman.

Referee: Sandro Scharer.