Brighton earned sixth place and a place in next season’s Europa League after drawing 1-1 with Premier League champions Manchester City at Amex Stadium on Wednesday.
Brighton (66 points) has had a spectacular season, qualifying for European play for the first time in club history. Manchester City (89 points) leads second-place Arsenal by eight points heading into the last game of the season and back-to-back cup finals the following week.
Manchester City scored in the 25th minute after each team had lengthy spells of pressure, good offensive play, and scoring opportunities that went begging. Erling Haaland burst through the defence and found himself one on one with custodian Robert Sanchez a long distance from goal, so he chose to cut inside and put Phil Foden in on goal with a couple of defenders rushing back to the goal line. Foden held his cool and found a crease to bend the ball through and put the game up 1-0.
The advantage lasted just 13 minutes, as Julio Enciso answered with one of the season’s greatest goals. The 19-year-old Paraguayan forward received the ball 40 yards from goal, turned and surged forward before unleashing an incredible 30-yard shot.
Haaland seemed to have won the game in the 79th minute with his 37th PL goal of the season, but video review determined that he had dragged Levi Colwill away from the ball and goal as he rushed in to head home from close range.
Brighton remain unfazed as they take on Manchester City.
Even Manchester City supporters must acknowledge that it was exciting to see the three-time defending champions challenged and forced to stretch their undefeated run to 16 games. Not in the sense that Pep Guardiola’s side was simply not at their best and Brighton were fortunate to face them on the day, but that the Seagulls took the pitch with every intention of pressing and possessing the ball against Man City in the same way they do against Southampton and Leeds (the two bottom-of-the-table sides).
This is the Premier League champions (again) — not to mention UEFA Champions League and FA Cup finalists — and Brighton matched them in every way. The Seagulls had the most shots on goal against Manchester City in Guardiola’s seven seasons at the club, with 11. As far as preparations for two cup finals go, Brighton provided precisely the type of test Guardiola would have desired.