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Brighton 1-0 Marseille: Late Joao Pedro winner puts Brighton in Europa League last 16

Joao Pedro celebrates scoring for Brighton at Marseille
Joao Pedro scored an 88th-minute winner

Joao Pedro said scoring an 88th-minute winner to help Brighton advance to the Europa League last 16 stage “was the best moment” of his life.

Victory was needed to leapfrog their opponents Marseille and finish first in Group B, as well as to avoid having to navigate the Europa League knockout play-off round.

It looked as if Roberto De Zerbi’s side would be held to a drab goalless draw, but Pedro picked up the ball in Marseille’s box, expertly created space for himself and then drove a shot into the top corner.

Pedro is the top scorer in the Europa League this season with six goals in six group matches and celebrated wildly with the home supporters after his late winner.

“I’m very happy, these are the best moments of my life,” Pedro told TNT Sports. “Thank you to my team-mates, they always support me.

“I’m very happy to be top scorer in the Europa League. To be top of the table, in the league or top scorer, you need to keep going through hard work.”

Victory means Brighton will next be in European action in March 2024, with the draw for the last 16 taking place on 23 February.

Marseille will also be in the knockout play-off round and face a side who finished third in the Champions League group stages.

‘We want to dream’ – De Zerbi

Brighton manager De Zerbi was equally joyous at full-time.

“I lost my voice, I lost everything,” he told TNT Sports. “It was an amazing game. We deserved to reach the top of the table.

“This is the best moment in my time [here]. We will play two games less. We want to dream. We want to prepare for that game for our best to win another step.”

Having started the final round of group matches one point behind Marseille, only a win for Brighton would have helped them avoid a potentially difficult play-off tie.

But for 87 minutes their French opponents, who are sixth in Ligue 1 having won each of their past four league fixtures, defended with discipline and created the match’s better chances.

They struck the bar early in the first half when Jonathan Clauss’ shot deflected off Pascal Gross and looped over Brighton keeper Jason Steele, only to bounce out off the woodwork.

And, after the restart, Amine Harit’s low shot hit the base of the Brighton post, but no Marseille player was nearby to tap in the rebound.

The Seagulls, despite dominating possession, had been limited to half chances with Pedro meeting a low cross with a driven effort off target and Billy Gilmour having a shot from range easily saved.

Evan Ferguson came close late on minutes before Pedro’s winner when his powerful strike from the edge of the box was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Pau Lopez.

In Group B’s other game Ajax beat AEK Athens to climb above the Greek side in third, but they drop into the Europa Conference League play-off round.

Player of the match

GilmourBilly Gilmour

Brighton & Hove Albion

  1. Squad number11Player nameGilmour

  2. Squad number9Player nameJoão Pedro

  3. Squad number5Player nameDunk

  4. Squad number13Player nameGroß

  5. Squad number41Player nameHinshelwood

  6. Squad number3Player nameIgor Julio

  7. Squad number29Player namevan Hecke

  8. Squad number28Player nameFerguson

  9. Squad number22Player nameMitoma

  10. Squad number23Player nameSteele

  11. Squad number24Player nameAdingra

  12. Squad number40Player nameBuonanotte

  13. Squad number14Player nameLallana

  14. Squad number34Player nameVeltman

  15. Squad number20Player nameBaleba

  16. Squad number6Player nameMilner

Marseille

  1. Squad number16Player namePau López

  2. Squad number29Player nameNdiaye

  3. Squad number11Player nameHarit

  4. Squad number10Player nameAubameyang

  5. Squad number27Player nameVeretout

  6. Squad number23Player nameSarr

  7. Squad number8Player nameOunahi

  8. Squad number7Player nameClauss

  9. Squad number5Player nameBalerdi

  10. Squad number18Player nameMeïté

  11. Squad number99Player nameMbemba

  12. Squad number12Player nameRenan Lodi

  13. Squad number19Player nameKondogbia

  14. Squad number9Player nameVítinha

  15. Squad number62Player nameMurillo

Line-ups

Brighton

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 23Steele
  • 41HinshelwoodSubstituted forMilnerat 74′minutes
  • 29van Hecke
  • 5DunkBooked at 90mins
  • 3dos Santos de Paulo
  • 11GilmourSubstituted forBalebaat 90+1′minutes
  • 13Groß
  • 24AdingraSubstituted forFergusonat 64′minutes
  • 40BuonanotteSubstituted forLallanaat 74′minutesBooked at 79mins
  • 22MitomaBooked at 84mins
  • 9João PedroBooked at 89minsSubstituted forVeltmanat 90+1′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Verbruggen
  • 6Milner
  • 8Dahoud
  • 14Lallana
  • 20Baleba
  • 28Ferguson
  • 34Veltman
  • 38McGill
  • 45Hinchy
  • 48Chouchane
  • 52Kavanagh
  • 56Duffus

Marseille

Formation 3-4-3

  • 16López
  • 18Meïté
  • 99MbembaBooked at 75mins
  • 5Balerdi
  • 7Clauss
  • 27VeretoutSubstituted forKondogbiaat 78′minutes
  • 8OunahiBooked at 79mins
  • 12LodiSubstituted forMurilloat 55′minutes
  • 9Carvalho OliveiraSubstituted forNdiayeat 52′minutes
  • 10Aubameyang
  • 11HaritSubstituted forSarrat 78′minutesBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 1Ngapandouetnbu
  • 4Gigot
  • 19Kondogbia
  • 23Sarr
  • 24Mughe
  • 29Ndiaye
  • 34Nadir
  • 36Blanco
  • 37Soglo
  • 62Murillo

Referee:
José María Sánchez Martínez

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