Report and free match highlights as Enciso levels after Phil Foden gives newly-crowned champions Man City an early lead; Brighton guaranteed to finish sixth and Europa League qualification; both sides see goals ruled out and Danny Welbeck hits the bar during memorable match
Wednesday 24 May 2023 22:56, UK
Julio Enciso hammered in a goal-of-the-season contender as brilliant Brighton pegged back champions Manchester City to draw 1-1 and secure qualification for the Europa League for the first time in their history.
The 19-year-old scored a long-range stunner in his side's win at Chelsea last month and this one was similar but perhaps even better, with his ferocious strike bending the ball into the top corner from 25 yards.
Erling Haaland, who served Phil Foden's 25th-minute opener on a plate, thought he had won it for City with just over 10 minutes to play when he put a string of missed chances behind him to head in at the back post. But when VAR advised referee Simon Hooper to check the pitchside monitor, he saw a shirt-pull on Levi Colwill had aided the Norway striker and the goal was ruled out, to Pep Guardiola's anger.
It would have been harsh on a Brighton team who had seen two goals of their own rightly ruled out and Danny Welbeck hit the bar during an enthralling contest. Roberto De Zerbi's side fired off a staggering 20 shots against the best team in England.
No opponent had managed more than 13 against City in the Premier League before Wednesday. Only two sides have ever hit more against a side managed by Guardiola.
It is that kind of front-foot, positive football which has taken Brighton to an historic achievement this season and their fans will now be eagerly anticipating a European tour. They have guaranteed sixth place.
With the point, they ended Man City's run of 12 straight Premier League wins - although the visitors, who celebrated their title win with a party on Sunday night, have the FA Cup and Champions League finals on their mind. They are now eight points clear of their nearest challengers Arsenal.
Brighton: Steele (8), Gross (7), Van Hecke (6), Colwill (8), Estupinan (7), Caicedo (7), Gilmour (7), Buonanotte (7), Enciso (8), Mitoma (7), Welbeck (7)
Subs: Mac Allister (7), Ferguson (7), Undav (6), Veltman (6)
Man City: Ortega (7), Walker (7), Stones (6), Rodri (6), Lewis (6), Mahrez (7), Bernardo Silva (7), Gundogan (7), De Bruyne (6), Foden (7), Haaland (6).
Subs: Palmer (6), Alvarez (6), Gomez (N/A), Phillips (N/A)
Player of the match: Julio Enciso (Brighton)
Brighton gave Manchester City a guard of honour before kick-off and seemed to pay their visitors too much respect in the opening moments, with Guardiola's side recording almost 85 per cent possession in an opening 15 minutes which saw Haaland spurn a glorious chance from Foden's cross. He uncharacteristically squandered another opening carved out by his team-mate on 21 minutes, too.
By then, Welbeck had bent a fine free-kick against the crossbar as Brighton issued a warning of what they could do with the ball themselves. But when Haaland showed the other side to his game, Man City took the lead.
He spun away from Jan Paul van Hecke near the halfway line and ran into acres of space as the home side's defence opened up and then, after committing Jason Steele, Haaland unselfishly squared for Foden to finish off the move. That was the striker's eighth assist of the season, while Foden celebrated a sixth goal of his career against Brighton - at least twice as many as he has against any other opponent.
Brighton responded brilliantly. Kaoru Mitoma had the ball in the net but it was rightly ruled out for a clear handball before Facundo Buonanotte's strike at Stefan Ortega signalled a shift in momentum. That was emphatically underlined when Enciso crashed in from long range.
It was a goal for the Paraguay international and Brighton's fans to savour for years to come.
With Brighton's tails up, Welbeck thought he had completed the turnaround when he converted from a tight angle soon after but an offside flag meant he was denied for the second time in the half.
After a breathless 45 minutes, Man City came out after the break seemingly with a point to prove. Haaland tried a spectacular scissor kick, Ilkay Gundogan dragged a shot wide and substitute Cole Palmer tested Steele within minutes of the restart.
But Brighton's confidence and authority was plain to see, as Evan Ferguson and Mitoma, twice, went close for the hosts.
A series of changes from both sides stunted the flow of what had been an end-to-end contest, though. Instead, there were flashes of drama. Pervis Estupinan fizzed one just past the post. Haaland then thought he had won it but was correctly denied for the shirt pull on Colwill.
Brighton had lost 10 of their previous 11 Premier League games against Man City - but this is a very different Brighton team now under De Zerbi. The connection between him, his players and the crowd was plain to see as they celebrated their best season at the final whistle.
Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi: "It was very tough. We knew to play against Man City is always tough. We played very well, we deserved to make our point - and we deserve to play in the Europa League.
"When the situation was difficult we didn't lose our style. To press Man City man-to-man on every side of the pitch, I think is courage."
On Enciso's goal: "It was incredible. Julio has big, big potential. I want him to play better and I think he can improve. If he stays with us for sure he can improve."
Did he believe he could get Europa League with Brighton when he took over? "No but I didn't think about the table. I wanted to work and analyse the team, the players, understand a new country, a new league. And then in February I started to think about the goal.
"I'm lucky because I found a fantastic group of players. I'm a good coach but without the players..."
Man City head coach Pep Guardiola: "Exceptional game. Congratulations to Brighton for their deserved qualification to the Europa League. The game we played, 40 hours after I think we drank all the alcohol in Manchester, showed the reason why we are the champion. I didn't see a drop of intensity in our idea. They had chances, we had chances.
"This team destroy the other opponents, the way they play, and they did in certain moments tonight, especially the last 10 or 15 minutes of the first half, when we struggled. But the second half, we adjusted and we did really well.
On the disallowed goal: "That's why it's 'show me again what you have done this season', because nobody gave us absolutely anything in this competition on the pitch. Watch it! If it's a [foul], then every action for Erling is a [foul]. Every single time for the central defenders."
The final day of the Premier League season is on Sunday May 28 with every game kicking off at 4.30pm. Free match highlights will be published across Sky Sports' digital platforms shortly after full-time.
Brighton end their record-breaking season away to Aston Villa, who will also be looking to join the Seagulls as a European team next season,
Manchester City travel to Europa Conference League-chasing Brentford on the final day of their title-winning campaign. Pep Guardiola's side then contest the FA Cup final against Manchester United on June 3, before playing Inter Milan in the Champions League final on June 10.