HomeEPL - TeamsBrightonAEK Athens FC vs Brighton - The Seagulls Soar to Victory

AEK Athens FC vs Brighton – The Seagulls Soar to Victory

AEK Athens FC vs Brighton

Brighton avenged September’s 2-3 defeat at home to AEK Athens, grabbing a 1-0 victory in Greece. The match which was played at the OPAP Arena in the Greek capital on November 30th, saw Brighton stretch their unbeaten run in Europe to four games. For AEK, though, this was a third straight loss as their hopes of progress ended.

Scoring the Game-winner

Joao Pedro Junqueira de Jesus was undoubtedly the hero of the night. His successful penalty kick after 55 minutes settled a hard-fought game. The Brazilian has five goals in five Europa League games this season, making him a big part of Brighton’s success in the competition. His team has qualified for the knock-out stage in their first-ever European campaign.

Gacinovic Sees Red

The game was not devoid of controversy. Serbian midfielder Mijat Gacinovic received a red card after getting his second yellow in the 65th minute. That reduced AEK to 10 men shortly after Joao Pedro’s goal. The flashpoint dealt a severe blow to the home team’s hopes of fighting back. Brighton’s Joël Veltman was shown a yellow card in the 12th minute.

Substitutions and Strategy

Brighton’s goal and Gacinovic’s red card prompted both coaches to make changes. The visitor played more cautiously after going in front and manager Roberto de Zerbi made four changes. That included withdrawing goalscorer Joao Pedro in favour of experienced defensive midfielder James Millner.

AEK, despite playing with 10 men, used four subs to try to freshen up the midfield and attack. After a player was sent off, Swiss forward Steven Zuber was replaced by Argentina’s Ezequiel Ponce to prevent him getting a second yellow.

Statistics and Final Thoughts

AEK had the better of possession, with 56% to Brighton’s 44%. The home team also had more goal attempts, but could not find a way past Bart Verbruggen in the Seagulls’ net. Brighton produced a disciplined performance away from home, defending stoutly to build a platform from which to win. Two refereeing decisions helped the Premier League team, with Swiss official Sandro Scharer awarding a penalty and sending off an AEK player.

That meant that our pre-game tip for Brighton to win came true. The calculations gave the visitors a 45% chance of winning the game and securing a place in the next round of the competition. While the Seagulls fly high, AEK is out of contention in Europe, and will now focus on domestic matters in the Greek championship.

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