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Brighton hold champs Manchester City to qualify for Europa League

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Featured Photo Caption:Brighton midfielder Julio Enciso celebrates a goal in the match against Manchester City. | PHOTO: Sky Sports 

Brighton clinched a 6th-place finish and their spot in next season’s Europa League as they drew Premier League champions Manchester City 1-1 at Amex Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

It’s been a remarkable season for Brighton (66 points), who qualify for European competition for the first time in club history. Manchester City (89 points), meanwhile, are eight points clear of 2nd-place Arsenal ahead of the season’s final game, and ahead of back-to-back cup finals the following week.

After each side had prolonged periods of pressure, positive attacking play and scoring chances that narrowly went begging, Manchester City put one away in the 25th minute. Erling Haaland raced in behind the defense and found himself one on one with goalkeeper Robert Sanchez a long way from goal, so he opted to cut inside and send Phil Foden in on goal with a pair of defenders racing back to the goal line. Foden kept his composure and found a crease to bend the ball through and make it 1-0.

WATCH BRIGHTON vs MANCHESTER CITY FULL MATCH REPLAY

The lead lasted just 13 minutes, as Julio Enciso responded with one of the best goals scored this season. The 19-year-old Paraguayan attacker got the ball 40 yards from goal, turned and drove forward before unleashing an unstoppable strike from 30 yards out.

Haaland looked like winning the game with his 37th PL goal of the season in the 79th minute, but upon video review he was deemed to have pulled Levi Colwill away from the ball and goal as he darted in to head home from close range.

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Brighton unfazed, go toe-to-toe with Man City

Even Manchester City fans have to admit: It was great to see the three-time reigning champions challenged and made to extend their unbeaten run to 16 games. Not in the sense that Pep Guardiola’s side simply wasn’t at its best and Brighton were fortunate to face them on the day, but that the Seagulls took the field with every intention of pressing and possessing the ball against Man City the same way they do against Southampton and Leeds (to name the two sides at the bottom of the table).

These are the Premier League champions (again, again) — not to mention UEFA Champions League and FA Cup finalists as well — and Brighton matched them across the board. The Seagulls took 11 shots in the first half, the most by any side against Manchester City in Guardiola’s seven seasons at the club. As preparations for two cup finals go, Brighton gave them exactly the kind of test that Guardiola will have wanted.

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