Encisco screamer earns Brighton Europa League

 Brighton & Hove Albi­on have secured a position in the 2023-24 Europa League group stage courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Manchester City in the Premier League on Wednes­day night.

The Seagulls entered the match knowing that a point would guar­antee sixth position in the Premier League table and a spot in next season’s Europa League.

Man. City made the break­through in the 25th minute through Phil Foden, but Julio En­ciso’s stunner in the latter stages of the first period secured a share of the spoils for the home side at the Amex.

Pep Guardiola’s side, who were recently confirmed as champions, have seen their 12-match winning run in the Premier League come to an end, and they will end their campaign against Brentford on Sunday before facing Manchester United and Inter Milan in the FA Cup final and Champions League final respectively.

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Brighton, meanwhile, will now face Aston Villa in a pressure-free contest on Sunday, knowing that Unai Emery’s side cannot catch them in sixth regardless of the result at Villa Park.

Man. City had a golden chance to take the lead in the fifth minute when Foden’s excellent cross found Erling Braut Haaland at the far post, but the Norway interna­tional surprisingly headed over the crossbar.

Brighton had a clear opening of their own in the ninth minute when the ball was worked into Danny Welbeck’s space, but the forward’s effort was charged down by Foden at the vital mo­ment.

Billy Gilmour then saw his shot saved by Stefan Ortega in the 10th minute, with Brighton starting to enjoy more of the ball against the recently-crowned Premier League champions.

Ortega had to make another save in the 17th minute to keep out a long-range Pascal Gross free kick, before Welbeck crashed a free kick of his own off the crossbar two minutes later.

Jason Steele then denied Haa­land from a one-on-one down the other end, but Man. City ultimate­ly made the breakthrough in the 25th minute of the match through Foden.

Haaland again broke into a dan­gerous area, but this time decided to pass to Foden, who managed to find the back of the net despite the best efforts of Jan Paul van Hecke. — Reuters

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