Brighton halt Aston Villa's charge for Champions League

Joao Pedro netted a late winner to halt Aston Villa’s charge to qualify for the Champions League as Brighton deservedly claimed a 1-0 victory at the Amex Stadium.

Villa, though, need just three points at most from their final two matches against Liverpool and Crystal Palace to secure fourth after Spurs were beaten 4-2 at Liverpool on Sunday.

But Unai Emery’s side looked jaded after their midweek defeat to Olympiakos with the out-of-form hosts denied the opening goal during the second half by VAR when Pascal Gross was ruled offside.

Villa’s John McGinn then found the net but he too was offside before Brighton deservedly claimed the points, Pedro heading in the rebound from his penalty which the brilliant Robin Olsen had saved.

Villa remain in fourth, seven points above Spurs, who have a game in hand.

Player ratings:

Brighton: Verbruggen (7), Webster (7), Dunk (7), Igor (7), Veltman (7), Gilmour (7), Gross (7), Adingra (8), Pedro (8), Buonanotte (6), Welbeck (6).

Subs: Enciso (6), Baleba (n/a), Moder (n/a), Barco (n/a).

Aston Villa: Olsen (8), Konsa (5), Torres (6), Carlos (6), Digne (6), Bailey (6), Diaby (6), Luiz (6), Rogers (6), McGinn (6), Watkins (6).

Subs: Cash (6), Duran (6), Moreno (n/a), Chambers (n/a).

Player of the Match: Simon Adingra

How Brighton rocked Villa

Joao Pedro scores from the rebound after initially missing his penalty
Joao Pedro scores from the rebound after initially missing his penalty

Brighton winger Simon Adingra was the best player throughout and he forced Olsen, who filled in for the injured Emi Martinez superbly, into an early save.

Villa struggled to find any rhythm which was hindered further when the in-form Morgan Rogers was forced off in just the 24th minute with a muscle injury.

Ollie Watkins showed his quality with a nice touch to get away from Adam Webster yet Villa saw very little of the Brighton goal with all the action coming up the other end.

Team news:

  • Brighton made three changes from their 3-0 at Bournemouth last weekend with Adam Webster, Joel Veltman and Danny Welbeck coming in for Odeluga Offiah, Valentin Barco and Mark O’Mahony.
  • Robin Olsen started in goal for Aston Villa with Emi Martinez still sidelined by injury. Pau Torres and Diego Carlos came in for Matty Cash and Clement Lenglet.

The hosts had two chances in added time with Adingra unable to steer a cross past Olsen before the Villa goalkeeper made a crucial save from Gross at close range.

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Robin Olsen made a fantastic close-range save from Gross

Olsen continued his fine form in the second half when Adingra played Joao Pedro through on goal and the striker was denied by the towering goalkeeper.

Brighton thought they had finally taken the lead when Gross turned in from Igor’s left-wing cross but after a lengthy VAR check, the goal was ruled out.

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Gross strayed offside in his attempt to give Brighton the lead

Villa then saw McGinn’s strike flagged offside when he had tucked home after the ball ricocheted to him inside the box while Brighton striker Danny Welbeck saw his header drop wide.

Brighton pushed for a winner and got their reward when Adingra got the wrong side of Ezri Konsa and went down in the box. Olsen dived to his right and kept out Pedro’s penalty, but the ball sat up nicely for the Brighton forward to head in.

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Joao Pedro had his penalty saved but scored from the rebound

De Zerbi: We did not play the true Villa

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Roberto De Zerbi says experience will help his younger players develop

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi said:

“I’m proud because we played a great game against one of the best teams in the Premier League. They are fourth and playing against Unai Emery is very tough. We played a good game and deserved to win.

“We could have scored more goals but, to be honest, Villa were not the true Villa. Maybe they were tired. I can understand that because they played on Thursday evening and they have a lot of injuries. For that, they couldn’t be the true Aston Villa.

“We played very well in the defensive phase but in the offensive phase as well, we created a lot of chances to score. We made mistakes in the last part of the pitch, we have to be better, but we are unlucky because [Robin] Olsen was the best player for Villa.”

Emery: We couldn’t repeat Arsenal heroics

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Aston Villa boss Unai Emery was keen to focus on the positives after their loss

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery said:

“[Tiredness] is not an excuse for us. We lost and didn’t deserve more. We competed and were focused. We tried to get our chances.

“They were creating more chances than us and corners. We needed the goalkeeper and Robin Olsen played fantastically. Now the most important thing is to recover the players.

“We played against Arsenal two weeks ago in the same circumstances, more or less, and we won there. Today we didn’t do it and get a good result. We didn’t deserve more but we’re positive, happy and proud of our work.”

Opta Stats: Villa restricted to two shots

  • Joao Pedro’s goal was his 20th of the season, making him the first player to score 20+ goals in a single season for Brighton across all competitions since Glenn Murray in 2016-17 (23).
  • Brighton have beaten Aston Villa at home in the Premier League for the very first time, and for the first time at home across all competitions since December 1980, ending an eight-match winless run at home against the Villans (D4 L4) since a 1-0 win at the Goldstone Ground under Alan Mullery.
  • Aston Villa had just two shots against Brighton, their fewest in a Premier League match since May 2016 vs Newcastle United (also 2), while only against Manchester United in August 2005 (1) have they had fewer on record in the competition (from 2003-04).
  • Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi picked up his fifth booking of the season, with no manager in the Premier League receiving more cards this season than him (Mikel Arteta also with 5). Overall, De Zerbi has now picked up 11 cards in the league during his time at Brighton, with the Italian also receiving the most cards last season in the Premier League (6 – 4 yellow, 2 red).

Fantasy Premier League stats

FPL stats: Brighton vs Aston Villa

Goals Pedro
Assists none
Bonus points Olsen (3pts), Webster (2pts), Dunk (1pt)

Play Fantasy Premier League and see more stats here

What’s next?

Brighton have three games remaining of their season. They go to Newcastle on Saturday May 11, kick-off 3pm, before hosting Chelsea on Wednesday May 15, kick-off 7.45pm. Brighton then finish at home to Manchester United on Sunday May 19, kick-off 4pm.

Aston Villa travel to Olympiakos for the second leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final on Thursday May 9, kick-off 8pm. They then feature on Monday Night Football on May 13 at home to Liverpool, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 8pm. Unai Emery’s side finish the season at Crystal Palace on May 19, kick-off 4pm.

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