Aston Villa beat Brighton 2-1 at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon as they secured a return to European football after a 13-year absence.

Courtesy of the victory, Villa finished seventh in the Premier League standings and will feature in the Europa Conference League. This was also Villa’s highest-placed finish since the 2009-10 season when they finished sixth.

Villa made perfect start to crunch game

The hosts got off to a dream start when Douglas Luiz scored in the 8th minute following Jacob Ramsey’s cutback in the box.

The visitors were close to equalizing almost immediately but Evan Ferguson fired just over from the edge of the box from Alexis MacAllister’s pass.  

VAR then chalked off Brighton’s equalizer in the 20th minute when Deniz Undav scored from close range, but replays showed that Julio Enciso was offside during the buildup to the goal.

Six minutes later, Ollie Watkins made it 2-0 for Villa following a brilliant counterattack. Jacob Ramsey unselfishly squared he ball for the English striker, who stroked the ball into an empty net to send the home fans into delirium.

Brighton did pull a goal back when Undav finally got on the scoresheet six minutes before halftime. The German striker did well to receive Pascal Gross’ Crossfield ball before sliding it past Emiliano Martinez in the Villa goal.

Neither side could garner any clear-cut opportunities in the second half and Villa understandably slowed the game out at times to run out winners on the day.

Brighton remained in sixth place, while Villa finished a spot and a point below their opposition on the day.

Aston Villa rich European history

Villa won the European Cup in 1982, and they last played in European competition in 2010 when they narrowly lost out to Rapid Vienna in the Europa League play-off.

It caps off a remarkable turnaround for Unai Emery who took over the club’s reins in October.

Villa were languishing in 14th at the time and were also in the relegation zone when Steven Gerrard was in charge before being fired. However, Emery has guided the side to 15 wins from 25 matches to take them back to Europe.

Photo credit: IMAGO / PA Images