Aston Villa beat Brighton to qualify for Europa Conference League
Aston Villa (61 points - 7th place) finished Unai Emery’s first (partial) season in charge by qualifying for the Europa Conference League with a 2-1 victory over Brighton at Villa Park on Sunday.
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Brighton (62 points - 6th place) entered the final day of the 2022-23 season having already qualified for next season’s Europa League. It will be the Seagulls’ first time in European competition in club history.
Aston Villa wasted little time getting off the mark, as they broke down the left wing and Jacob Ramsey found Douglas Luiz in acres of space atop Brighton’s penalty area. The Brazilian had all kinds of time to position his body and pick his spot inside the far post.
Brighton thought they had pulled level in the 19th minute, but video review revealed that Julio Enciso was offside before picking out Deniz Undav. Seven minutes later, Aston Villa streaked from one end to the other again, and again it was Jacob Ramsey who provided the set-up, this time for Ollie Watkins, as the two danced around the out-rushing Jason Steele to make it 2-0.
Eventually, Brighton bagged a goal that counted in the 38th minute, and what a well-worked set-piece routine it was. Pascal Gross clipped the ball into the penalty area, away from the mass of bodies jostling for position before taking flight, and right to Undav, who had peeled away from everyone else and was all by himself with time to let the ball bounce, collect it and fire past Emi Martinez.
Stars of the show
Aston Villa vs Brighton, final score: 2-1
8th minute - Douglas Luiz puts Aston Villa ahead with an early goal
26th minute - Ollie Watkins finishes a counter-attack to make it 2-0
38th minute - Deniz Undav scores from a clever set-piece routine by Brighton
How to watch Aston Villa vs Brighton live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 11:30am ET, SundayTV Channel: PeacockOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
Aston Villa were excellent at Liverpool as they were very dangerous in the first half with Ollie Watkins causing chaos, while Douglas Luiz, Leon Bailey and Jacob Ramsey were all superb surging forward from midfield. In the second half they dug in defensively and rode their luck but that point has put European qualification in their own hands. The best thing about this Villa side is that they have incredible balance and every single player knows exactly what they are supposed to do.
Brighton were superb against Manchester City as Roberto de Zerbi rotated his lineup and it worked extremely well. They are a joy to watch and teenager Julio Enciso smashed home a stunner to grab the point which secured their spot in the Europa League group stage.
Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Jed Steer (calf), Philippe Coutinho (muscle), Alex Moreno (thigh)
Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Robert Sanchez (personal), Tariq Lamptey (knee), Jeremy Sarmiento (ankle), Jakub Moder (other), Adam Lallana (thigh), Solly March (thigh)