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Europa League: Brighton beat AEK Athens to reach knockout phase

By BBC
Football News Joao Pedro is Brighton's leading goalscorer across all competitions this season
NOV 30, 2023 LISTEN
Joao 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.

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