Aston Villa 2 Brighton and Hove Albion 1
Albion finish in the Premier League top six and will compete in the Europa League next season although the Seagulls won’t be playing Leicester City, Leeds United or indeed Southampton in the top flight.
Villa needed to better Spurs and Brentford’s results to qualify for the Europa Conference League, a less prestigious competition than the Albion will be playing in.
It was virtually a dead rubber for the Seagulls who would finish sixth win, lose or draw.
Douglas Luiz put Villa ahead on eight minutes which allowed Villa to climb back above Spurs who had gone ahead at virtually relegated Leeds.
Deniz Undav looked to have pulled Albion level. But Julio Enciso, who played in the cross for Undav to stab home from close range, was adjudged to have strayed just offside after a VAR check.
John McGinn was able to dispossess Alex Mac Allister, a rare error from Albion’s World Cup winning midfielder. McGinn played the ball to Jacob Ramsey who was through on Jason Steele. But Ramsey squared the ball to Ollie Watkins who doubled Villa’s lead.
Albion showed their intent on maintaining the integrity of the competition seven minutes before half time as Undav collected a Pascal Gross free kick and pulled one back for the Seagulls.
Mac Allister could have levelled the match for Brighton and a number of efforts by Watkins could have increased Villa’s lead in the second half.
But if Albion had nothing at stake, then Villa, one-time European Champions, seemingly had everything to play for to be sure of finishing one place behind Albion in seventh. The score, though, stayed at 2-1 until the end.
Jack Hinshelwood, son of former Albion defender Adam and great nephew of former Albion manager Martin, made his Premier League debut in the last minute for Undav.
In the end and almost ironically the three teams that did the league double over the Albion during the season – Aston Villa, Brentford and Tottenham – were the teams all vying to finish one place below the Seagulls as the season ended.
Albion will start their seventh Premier League season in August and their first ever Europa League season in September.