Reuters3 Minute Read
Champions Manchester City’s 12-match winning streak in the Premier League came to an end as they were held to a 1-1 draw at sixth-placed Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.
Treble-chasing City, who wrapped up a fifth title in six seasons at the weekend, lacked their usual intensity, but took the lead when Phil Foden slotted home in the 25th minute.
The win means Brighton have qualified for the Europa League next season, the club’s first venture into Europe, and showed why with some vibrant football before Julio Enciso equalised for the hosts with a stunning long-range effort in the 38th minute.
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“What an achievement, what a club, what a group of guys. The togetherness, the culture and we are driven in by a top, top manager. Special times,” Brighton keeper Jason Steele said.
Danny Welbeck had a goal ruled out before halftime for Brighton and Erling Haaland thought he had put City ahead late on but was penalised for shirt-pulling after a VAR check.
It was the first time since February that City had dropped points and with one league game left at Brentford on Sunday they have 89 points, eight more than Arsenal. Brighton have 62, a total seventh-placed Aston Villa now cannot match.
Despite having clinched another title and with the FA Cup and Champions League finals to come, City manager Pep Guardiola’s hunger for victory was undiminished.
He was furious as Haaland was denied his late goal, earning himself a yellow card for his verbal volley, but defeat would have been harsh on a Brighton side who have enjoyed the best campaign in the club’s history.
“Exceptional game. Congratulations to Brighton for their deserved qualification to the Europa League,” Guardiola said. “The game we played, 48 hours after we drank all the alcohol in Manchester, 48 hours later we behaved and we showed why we were the champions against that team.”
Brighton matched City throughout an enjoyable contest and had 20 goal attempts to City’s 13, with seven of them on target.
Yet even with their eyes now focused on two of the biggest games in the club’s history, City still packed a considerable punch with Haaland marauding forward.
The Norwegian looked poised to score when he went through one-on-one, but he was thwarted by Brighton keeper Jason Steele.
The next time he went through, after being released by Riyad Mahrez’s pass, he went around Steele and unselfishly picked out Foden whose shot found the bottom corner.
Kaoru Mitoma had an equaliser ruled out before Paraguayan teenager Enciso brought the crowd to its feet.
Picking up the ball in space about 25 metres from goal he sent a right-foot rocket beyond the diving Stefan Ortega and into the top corner of the goal.
Welbeck, who had already hit the goal frame with a free kick, was then denied by a tight offside call.
Brighton had plenty of chances in the second half too but it looked as though Haaland had scored his 53rd goal of the season when he headed in Cole Palmer’s cross. VAR ruled he had clearly grabbed the shirt of Levi Colwill as the ball came across the goalmouth.
Haaland’s goal rate has slowed considerably with only one in his last six games. City’s fans will be hoping he is saving a few more for the seismic couple of weeks ahead with an FA Cup final looming on June 3 before playing in the Champions League decider one week later.