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Aston Villa qualify for Europe

Aston Villa qualify for Europe

Aston Villa beat Brighton at a raucous Villa Park to secure a return to European football after a 13-year absence. Villa needed to win to finish seventh in the Premier League and earn a spot in the play-offs for the third-tier Europa Conference League.

They made a dream start as, after Leon Bailey had hit the crossbar, they took the lead in the eighth minute when the club's Player of the Year Douglas Luiz slid the ball home from Jacob Ramsey's pullback.

Ramsey got another assist 18 minutes later when he collected a through ball and, just as away goalkeeper Jason Steele slid at his feet, knocked a sideways pass to Ollie Watkins for the England striker to score his 15th league goal of the season.

Brighton thought they had scored when Deniz Undav volleyed in, but Julio Enciso was adjudged by the video assistant referee to have been offside in the build-up.

In the 38th minute, a VAR decision did go Undav's way when he scored following a quickly taken free-kick by Pascal Gross. The assistant referee flagged for offside but was overruled by officials at Stockley Park.

Villa won the European Cup in 1982 and last played in European competition in 2010, losing 4-3 on aggregate to Austrian side Rapid Vienna in the Europa League play-offs.

Despite a nervous second half against Brighton, they held on to the victory they needed to spark celebrations in the stands.