- Aston Villa ended a 13-year wait to return to European football after beating Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 on Sunday evening
- The Premier League side last played in a European competition in 2010 when they lost 4-3 on aggregate to Rapid Vienna in the Europa League play-offs.
Aston Villa ended a 13-year wait to return to European football after beating Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 on Sunday evening.
The home win helped them finish seventh on the Premier League standings hence securing a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) qualification stages.
Brighton made a dream start against Brighton, taking the lead after just eight minutes of play courtesy of Douglas Luiz. Ollie Watkins doubled the lead 14 minutes later before Deniz Undav pulled one back for Brighton in the 38th minute. Despite a shaky second half, Villa held on to their lead until the final whistle.
Speaking after the win, Aston Villa manager Unai Emery said he is proud of the work done by his team.
“I am very proud. These players have really followed me for the last six months, it has been demanding and we are committed. We finished perfectly in the last six matches at home, we beat a very good team and to achieve the European place is the best possible end. We will be in Europe which for me is very important. It has given me a lot, it is fantastic, another way and another trophy at the end. I am very thankful for every supporter.” Unai Emery said after the game, as per Yardbarker.
Aston Villa last won the European Cup in 1982. The Premier League side, however, last played in a European competition in 2010 when they lost 4-3 on aggregate to Rapid Vienna in the Europa League play-offs.
Former Arsenal and Villareal boss Unai Emery believes Aston Villa are on the right track and could enjoy European glory soon.
“Historically this is a great team, we won the European Cup, a long time ago but we can now try to improve and get an ambitious step ahead. This is the first step. Europe adds more matches and more difficult moments but I like that. It is very important for us.” Yardbarker quotes Unai Emery.
How Aston Villa Beat Brighton
Brighton travelled to Villa Park high on confidence and little to play for having already booked a spot in next season’s UEFA Europa League. On the other side, Aston Villa had to win this match to qualify for a place in the UECl ahead of Tottenham Hotspur.
The hosts were also looking for seventh consecutive Premier League home wins for the first time since 1993. With the pressure being firmly with them, they started the game on a high note, with Leon Bailey hitting the crossbar.
Douglas Luiz, who is Aston Villa Player of the Year, opened the scoring in the eighth minute from Jacob Ramsey’s pullback. Ramsey got another assists in the 26th minute when he knocked a sideways pass to Ollie Watkins who easily found the back of the net.
Brighton thought they had found their way back into the game when Deniz Undav volleyed in. However, the goal did not stand as Julio Enceso was adjudged offside by the VAR.
Brighton eventually found a reason to celebrate in the 38th minute when Undav scored from a quickly taken free-kick. Despite Aston Villa playing nervously in the second half, they held on to their 2-1 lead until the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the match.