Brighton 1-1 Man City: VAR rules out Erling Haaland winner after Julio Enciso stun
Ulio Enciso’s superb leveler cemented Brighton’s place in next season’s Europa League as Manchester City’s Premier League-winning run was cut short at 12 games by a thrilling 1-1 draw.
The 19-year-old Paraguay forward launched a thunderous, deflected effort into the top right corner from 25 yards seven minutes before the break to mathematically guarantee Albion a sixth place finish.
Phil Foden gave the newly crowned champions the lead at Amex Stadium with his fifth goal in as many starts against the Seagulls. But, despite a host of big names returning, Pep Guardiola saw his formidable side drop points for the first time since February 18 after Erling Haaland’s 79th-minute header was disallowed due to the fact that VAR spotted a shirt jumper on Levi Colwill.
City boss Guardiola was angered by the move and later received a yellow card from referee Simon Hooper for his ongoing protests.
Haaland wasted two great chances in the first half, while Brighton’s Danny Welbeck shook off the crossbar with a free-kick and had a goal disallowed for offside, plus an effort from Kaoru Mitoma canceled for handball.
The thrilling encounter was a fitting final home game of an unforgettable campaign for the record-breaking Seagulls and banished the remote possibility of them slipping into the Europa Conference League on the final day at seventh-placed Aston Villa.
City received a guard of honor from their hosts, four days after claiming their fifth title in six seasons thanks to defeat to second-placed Arsenal at Nottingham Forest.
Guardiola brought Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne back in six changes from Sunday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea, while Brighton captain Lewis Dunk started on the bench just hours after being recalled to England due to ongoing calf and back problems.
Haaland – looking to add to his top-flight 36 goals – should have put City ahead in six minutes, but unnecessarily headed unmarked after Foden’s inviting delivery from the left.
Guardiola has hailed rival manager Roberto De Zerbi as one of the most influential managers of the past 20 years in the build-up to the clash. Still, City were guilty of causing their own problems in the opening rally with risky passes from behind.
The visitors were lucky to escape Brighton’s pressure a few times before surviving in the 20th minute when Welbeck’s free-kick was returned from the bar.
Haaland then swung the ball around and saw it choked off by Seagulls keeper Jason Steele after it was slipped by Foden before making amends by assisting in the 25th minute opener.
Riyad Mahrez’s superb through ball split Albion’s defense and Haaland ran flawlessly to draw in Steele and squared for Foden, who headed home to continue his fine goalscoring record against the Seagulls despite Jan Paul’s best efforts van Hecke on the line.
As City lifted the Premier League trophy over the weekend, Brighton celebrated with glee securing continental football for the first time by beating relegated Southampton 3-1. And the Seagulls were determined to prolong the euphoria.
Mitoma saw his bundle finish ruled out and Facundo Buonanotte pricked Stefan Ortega’s palms before the eye-catching equalizer arrived.
Enciso collected the ball from Colwill halfway inside the opposition’s territory and moved forward to strike dramatically high into the net from distance, prompting applause from City fans behind goal. Former Manchester United striker Welbeck then had a fine finish disallowed for offside before Foden narrowly headed De Bruyne’s cross at the end of a breathless first half.
The frantic end-to-end action continued into the second half, although the chances were largely limited. Ilkay Gundogan flashed wide and Cole Palmer tested Steele, while Pervis Estupinan’s powerful drive flew slightly wide of the left post at the far end.
City, who were chasing the hat-tricks, thought they had won it 11 minutes from time when Haaland found space to nod off a cross from substitute Palmer. But, to Guardiola’s visible frustration, the close range finish was called off on advice from Stockley Park.
City end their top flight climax at Brentford before progressing to an FA Cup final against rivals Manchester United and a Champions League showdown with Inter Milan in Istanbul.
Additional reports by AP.