BRIGHTON, England: Julio Enciso’s stunning long-range strike secured Brighton’s qualification for the Europa League in a 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Wednesday.
The Paraguay international unleashed an unstoppable effort from around 25 meters to even the score after Phil Foden had fired Premier League championS City ahead at Amex Stadium.
A point means Brighton is guaranteed to finish sixth, their highest-ever final position in English soccer’s top flight.
It marks an outstanding first season in charge for manager Roberto de Zerbi, who only took over from Graham Potter in September after the former Brighton boss left for Chelsea.
The club faced an uncertain future at the time but has gone on to flourish under the Italian, who also led the team to the semifinals of the FA Cup this season.
Sixth place beats Brighton’s previous highest finish of ninth, which they achieved under Potter last year.
The draw ended City’s 12-game winning streak in the league, which had seen Pep Guardiola’s team overhaul long-time leader Arsenal at the top and win a fifth title six years.
With a third league championship already wrapped up, City had little to play for other than improving its points total.
Having rested a number of his star players against Chelsea on Sunday, Guardiola recalled Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne to his starting lineup, with John Stones, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva also back.
Haaland twice had chances to open the scoring before turning provider for Foden to put City ahead in the 25th minute.
At the other end, Danny Welbeck had already hit the crossbar with a free-kick.
The equalizer came from Enciso and it was a strike worthy of sending his team to the heights of the Europa League as he launched a right-footed shot into the top corner in the 38th.
Haaland thought he had scored his 53rd goal of the season with a late header, but it was ruled out by VAR after he was adjudged to have pulled Levi Colwill’s shirt beforehand.