Brighton beat AEK Athens to reach knockout phase

2 months ago 82
Joao Pedro prepares to kick a ballJoao Pedro is Brighton's leading goalscorer across all competitions this season

Brighton booked their spot in the knockout phase of the Europa League by beating AEK Athens.

The Seagulls, playing in Europe for the first time in their history, earned revenge for their 3-2 loss at home to AEK in the opening match of the group stage to ensure their adventure continues.

Joao Pedro, who scored two penalties on that evening on the south coast, was accurate again from the spot as he sent goalkeeper Cican Stankovic the wrong way for the only goal in Greece.

Referee Sandro Scharer did not initially give the penalty after Pedro went down under pressure from Damian Szymanski, but he overturned his on-field decision after being advised to check the pitchside monitor following a VAR check.

AEK's hopes of forcing their way back into the encounter were dashed just 10 minutes later when forward Mijat Gacinovic, who had been a thorn in Brighton's side all night, was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a late challenge on Joel Veltman.

With an extra body on the field, Albion monopolised possession and maintained a firm grip on the contest for the final 25 minutes to claim just their third clean sheet of the season.

The win means Brighton will be playing in the next phase of the competition, although they need to beat Marseille in their final Group B fixture at Amex Stadium on 14 December to secure top spot and avoid featuring in the knockout play-offs.

Follow Thursday's European actionHow did you rate Brighton's performance? Have your say here

Pedro proving to be key figure

Brighton have been hailed for their dealings in the transfer market, both incoming and outgoing, since making their Premier League debut in 2017-18.

They secured the services of Brazil international Pedro for just under £30m from Watford last summer and he has settled quickly under boss Roberto de Zerbi.

After registering on his debut in a 4-1 win over Luton in the Premier League, Pedro has scored a further eight times to establish himself as the club's leading marksman.

Pedro looked the calmest person inside OPAP Arena when he made his slow and stuttering run up to the penalty spot before stroking coolly into the bottom-right corner.

The 22-year-old is the outright leading scorer in the Europa League, netting five times in as many games.

While De Zerbi will be happy with Pedro's performance, the Italian is also likely to take just as much comfort from the fact his side came through the match with a clean sheet too.

Prior to the trip to Greece, Brighton had only collected two clean sheets - both coming against Ajax in the Europa League - in 18 outings across all competitions.

The Seagulls did have to dig in at times, with AEK creating the majority of the chances in the opening 45 minutes.

Steven Zuber went closest when his effort struck the post and Gacinovic could only fire wide from the rebound.

But Brighton rode their luck to get in level at the break and it was a professional performance to see the game through once they got in front.

helpHow to play

Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.

Rating range key1 = Give it up10 = Pure perfection

AEK Athens

Squad number1Player nameStankovic

Squad number12Player nameRota

Squad number21Player nameVida

Squad number2Player nameMoukoudi

Squad number28Player nameHajisafi

Squad number4Player nameSzymanski

Squad number5Player nameN Amrabat

Squad number20Player nameMantalos

Squad number13Player namePineda

Squad number8Player nameGacinovic

Squad number10Player nameZuber

Squad number11Player nameAraújo

Squad number14Player namePonce

Squad number19Player nameEliasson

Squad number70Player namePizarro

Brighton & Hove Albion

Squad number1Player nameVerbruggen

Squad number34Player nameVeltman

Squad number5Player nameDunk

Squad number3Player nameIgor Julio

Squad number41Player nameHinshelwood

Squad number13Player nameGroß

Squad number11Player nameGilmour

Squad number24Player nameAdingra

Squad number28Player nameFerguson

Squad number22Player nameMitoma

Squad number9Player nameJoão Pedro

Squad number6Player nameMilner

Squad number8Player nameDahoud

Squad number20Player nameBaleba

Squad number56Player nameDuffus

Line-ups

AEK Athens

Formation 4-1-4-1

1Stankovic12Rota21Vida2Moukoudi28Hajisafi4Szymanski5N AmrabatSubstituted forEliassonat 72'minutes20MantalosSubstituted forAraújoat 72'minutes13PinedaSubstituted forPizarroat 83'minutes8GacinovicBooked at 65mins10ZuberBooked at 63minsSubstituted forPonceat 72'minutes

Substitutes

3Mohammadi11Araújo14Ponce19Eliasson24Mitoglou29Sidibé30Athanasiadis39Ginis70Pizarro

Brighton

Formation 4-2-3-1

1Verbruggen34VeltmanBooked at 12mins5Dunk3dos Santos de Paulo41Hinshelwood13Groß11GilmourSubstituted forBalebaat 88'minutes24Adingra28FergusonSubstituted forDuffusat 88'minutes22MitomaSubstituted forDahoudat 69'minutes9João PedroSubstituted forMilnerat 77'minutes

Substitutes

6Milner8Dahoud20Baleba23Steele38McGill40Buonanotte45Hinchy48Chouchane50Jackson52Kavanagh56Duffus

Live Text

Match ends, AEK Athens 0, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

Second Half ends, AEK Athens 0, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

Foul by Ezequiel Ponce (AEK Athens).

Joshua Duffus (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Niclas Eliasson (AEK Athens) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by James Milner (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Lazaros Rota (AEK Athens) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

James Milner (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Lazaros Rota.

Attempt blocked. Joshua Duffus (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Carlos Baleba is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Domagoj Vida (AEK Athens) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Niclas Eliasson with a cross.

Corner, AEK Athens. Conceded by James Milner.

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Carlos Baleba replaces Billy Gilmour.

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Joshua Duffus replaces Evan Ferguson.

Attempt missed. Harold Moukoudi (AEK Athens) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ehsan Hajisafi with a cross following a corner.

Corner, AEK Athens. Conceded by Joël Veltman.

Substitution, AEK Athens. Rodolfo Pizarro replaces Orbelín Pineda.

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Ehsan Hajisafi.

Foul by Ehsan Hajisafi (AEK Athens).

Read Entire Article