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Game #5669

Aston Villa

Sunday, 28 May 2023

Won

7th (=)

Last 5: 🟥 🟥 🟩 🟨 🟩

Premier League

Brighton & Hove Albion

Attendance: 41,046

Villa Park

Aston Villa

2-1

Brighton & Hove Albion

Assist(s) | Jacob Ramsey | 8' | 26' |

MATCH SUMMARY

Villa chalk up a dominant win against an admittedly talented but overly feted Brighton side to clinch 7th spot, European football and highlight just what appointing the right manager can do. Heading for relegation under the previous manager in October, heading for Europe in May. Unai Emery we salute you.

KEY MAN

Jacob Ramsey, his 101st appearance and what could be his best yet amidst a very high standard... more goals and contributions at his age than Jack Grealish. Baller.

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Copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission.

MATCH TIMELINE

Sunday, 28 May 2023

⚽ | 8’ Goal, 1-0, Douglas Luiz, Assist by Jacob Ramsey
🟨 | 22’ Booking, Matty Cash for a bad foul
🟨 | 24’ Booking, Jacob Ramsey for a bad foul
⚽ | 26’ Goal, 2-0, Ollie Watkins, Assist by Jacob Ramsey
🟨 | 37’ Booking, Tyrone Mings for a bad foul
🥅 | 38’ Goal, 2-1, (Brighton & Hove Albion), Deniz Undav
🕒 | HT Aston Villa 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
🟨 | 67’ Booking, John McGinn
🔁 | 69’ Sub off, Leon Bailey, Sub on, Emiliano Buendía
💥 | 72’ Brighton stop a Villa attack with a back pass to the ‘keeper, referee Coote fails to award a free kick
💥 | 90’ Referee Coote awards 6’ injury time
🕒 | FT Aston Villa 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Villa qualify for Europe for the 17th time and first since 2010-11.

ON THIS DAY

Villa qualify for Europe for the 17th time as the remarkable turnaround under Unai Emery delivers the highest league finish for the club since 2009-10. What's the lad going to do with a full season at Villa Park? Exciting times are here again.

Villa equalled the club Premier League record of seven consecutive home victories, first set from December 1992 to February 1993 under Ron Atkinson when Villa ended the season runners up to Manchester United.

Villa made it 18 Premier League wins to equal their best in a 38-match season, first set in 1995-96 under Brian Little as Villa ended the season in fourth place.

Ollie Watkins became the first Villa player to reach 15 League goals in a top-flight season since Christian Benteke in 2012-13.

Aston Villa

European Cup / Champions League: 🏆
League Champions: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆
FA Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆
League Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆
Last Trophy: 1995-96

Brighton & Hove Albion

European Cup / Champions League: ❌
League Champions: ❌
FA Cup Winners: ❌
League Cup Winners: ❌
Last Trophy: ❌

FIXTURE HISTORY

Brighton & Hove Albion

Previous 5 vs. Brighton: 🟥 🟨 🟩 🟩 🟩

FIXTURE DETAILS

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Season | 2022-23 |
Matchday | #41 |
League Game | #38 |
Manager Game | #27 |
Saturday, 28 May 2023
Attendance | 41,046 |

MATCH SUMMARY

Manager: Unai Emery | 🇪🇸 | Hondarribia, 2022-
Referee: David Coote | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Nottinghamshire, 2010-
Kick off: 4.30pm
Half Time Score: 🟩 2-1
Full Time Result: 🟩 Won
Full Time Score: 🟩 2-1
Last 5: 🟥 🟥 🟩 🟨 🟩

MANAGERIAL RECORD

Unai Emery | 🇪🇸 |

GAMES | WINS | DRAWS | LOSSES | POINTS PER GAME

🕒 27 | 🟩 | 15 🟨 | 4 🟥 8 | 1.81

Villa Career Form:

Top 4

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: David Coote | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Nottinghamshire, 2010-
Matches Officiated: 15
🟩 : 7
🟨 : 2
🟥 : 6
🆘 : 1
Previous 5: 🟩 🟨 🟩 🟥 🟥
Last Match: 🟥 10 Nov 22, Villa 2-4 United (a)
Cards: 🟨 🟨 🟨 🟨 🟨 🟨 🟨 🟨
Assistants: Simon Bennett, Timothy Wood.
Fourth official: Andy Davies.
VAR: Graham Scott.
Assistant VAR: Lee Betts.

ALL THE MATCHES REFEREED BY:

CARDS

Villa

🟨 🟨 🟨 🟨

Brighton & Hove Albion

🟨 🟨 🟨 🟨

TEAM NEWS

Leon Bailey retains his place despite another run of ineffectual performances, perhaps the last game of the season will finally see the Jamaican reach this potential? Meanwhile Lucas Digne also keeps his starting spot with Álex Moreno ruled out for three months with a hamstring injury. Jhon Durán also does not feature as youngsters Travis Patterson and Seb Revan return to the squad.

TEAM STATS

Starting XI Average Age: | 26.80 |
Bench Average Age: | 27.73 |
Squad Average Age: | 27.40 |
Subs Average Age: | 26.77 |
Oldest Starter: GK Emiliano Martínez | 🇦🇷 | 30.75 |
Youngest Starter: M Jacob Ramsey | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 22.01 |
Oldest Squad Player: RB Ashley Young | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 37.91 |
Youngest Squad Player: F Travis Patterson | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 17.65 |
Oldest Substitute: W Emiliano Buendía | 🇦🇷 | 26.77 |
Youngest Substitute: W Emiliano Buendía | 🇦🇷 | 26.77 |

MANAGER

Unai Emery | 🇪🇸 |

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Aston Villa

GK Emiliano Martínez | 🇦🇷 |
LB Lucas Digne | 🇫🇷 |
CB Ezri Konsa | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CB Tyrone Mings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🟨 |
RB Matty Cash | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🇵🇱 | 🟨 |
M Boubacar Kamara | 🇫🇷 |
M John McGinn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | 🟨 |
M Douglas Luiz | 🇧🇷 | ⚽ |
M Jacob Ramsey | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🔥 | 🔥 | 🟨 |
W Leon Bailey | 🇯🇲 | 🔁 |
CF Ollie Watkins | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | ⚽ |

MANAGER

Roberto de Zerbi | 🇮🇹 |

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Brighton & Hove Albion

GK Jason Steele | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CB Adam Webster | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🔁 |
CB Levi Colwill | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
RB Joël Veltman | 🇳🇱 | 🔁 |
M Pascal Groß | 🇩🇪 | 🟨 |
M Facundo Buonanotte | 🇦🇷 | 🟨 |
M Yasin Ayari | 🇸🇪 | 🔁 |
M Alexis Mac Allister | 🇦🇷 |
CF Deniz Undav | 🇩🇪 | ⚽ | 🟨 | 🔁 |
CF Evan Ferguson | 🇮🇪 |
F Julio Enciso | 🇵🇾 | 🔁 |

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Not necessarily indicative of the actual matchday formation

SUBSTITUTES

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🔁 W Emiliano Buendía | 🇦🇷 | for W Leon Bailey | 🇯🇲 | 69’ |

SUBSTITUTES

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🔁 | LB Pervis Estupiñán | 🇪🇨 | for M Yasin Ayari | 🇸🇪 | 46’ |
🔁 | M Moisés Caicedo | 🇪🇨 | 🟨 | for RB Joël Veltman | 🇳🇱 | 46’ |
🔁 | CB Jan Paul van Hecke | 🇳🇱 | for CB Adam Webster | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 65’ |
🔁 | W Kaoru Mitoma | 🇯🇵 | for F Julio Enciso | 🇵🇾 | 65’ |
🔁 | M Jack Hinshelwood | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | for CF Deniz Undav | 🇩🇪 | 89’ |

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UNUSED SUBSTITUTES

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GK Robin Olsen | 🇸🇪 |
CB Diego Carlos | 🇧🇷 |
CB Calum Chambers | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CB Seb Revan | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
RB Ashley Young | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Leander Dendoncker | 🇧🇪 |
W Bertrand Traoré | 🇧🇫 |
F Travis Patterson | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

UNUSED SUBSTITUTES

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GK Tom McGill | 🇨🇦 |
CB Lewis Dunk | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Billy Gilmour | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 |
CF Danny Welbeck | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

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SQUAD STATS

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1st XI Cost: £166.19m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 6/11
Homegrown: 1/11
Subs Cost: £34.56m
Team Cost: £200.75m
Squad Cost: £261.86m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 10/20
Homegrown: 3/20

MATCHDAY SQUAD

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GK Emiliano Martínez | 🇦🇷 | £19.58m |
GK Robin Olsen | 🇸🇪 | £3.15m |

LB Lucas Digne | 🇫🇷 | £27.00m |
RB Matty Cash | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🇵🇱 | £14.18m |
RB Ashley Young | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |

CB Diego Carlos | 🇧🇷 | £27.90m |
CB Tyrone Mings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £20.60m |
CB Ezri Konsa | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £11.97m |
CB Seb Revan | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |
CB Calum Chambers | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |

M Douglas Luiz | 🇧🇷 | £15.12m |
M Leander Dendoncker | 🇧🇪 | £13.50m |
M John McGinn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | £2.79m |
M Jacob Ramsey | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |
M Boubacar Kamara | 🇫🇷 | Free |

W Emiliano Buendía | 🇦🇷 | £34.56m |
W Leon Bailey | 🇯🇲 | £28.80m |
W Bertrand Traoré | 🇧🇫 | £16.56m |

CF Ollie Watkins | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £27.72m |
F Travis Patterson | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |

SQUAD STATS

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1st XI Cost: £51.56m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 : 3/11
Homegrown: ⭕/11
Subs Cost: £24.48m
Team Cost: £76.04m
Squad Cost: £83.35m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 : 7/20
Homegrown: 3/20

MATCHDAY SQUAD

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GK Jason Steele | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |
GK Tom McGill | 🇨🇦 | Youth |

CB Adam Webster | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £19.30m |
CB Jan Paul van Hecke | 🇳🇱 | £1.75m |
CB Lewis Dunk | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |
CB Levi Colwill | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Loan |

LB Pervis Estupiñán | 🇪🇨 | £15.63m |
RB Joël Veltman | 🇳🇱 | £0.90m |

M Billy Gilmour | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | £7.31m |
M Alexis Mac Allister | 🇦🇷 | £7.20m |
M Facundo Buonanotte | 🇦🇷 | £5.20m |
M Moisés Caicedo | 🇪🇨 | £4.50m |
M Yasin Ayari | 🇸🇪 | £3.48m |
M Pascal Groß | 🇩🇪 | £2.70m |
M Jack Hinshelwood | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |

W Kaoru Mitoma | 🇯🇵 | £2.60m |

F Julio Enciso | 🇵🇾 | £10.18m |
CF Deniz Undav | 🇩🇪 | £6.08m |
CF Evan Ferguson | 🇮🇪 | Free |
CF Danny Welbeck | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |

UNAVAILABLE

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Injury | 4 |
GK Jed Steer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Achilles
M Philippe Coutinho | 🇧🇷 | Unknown
LB Álex Moreno | 🇪🇸 | Unknown
CF Jhon Durán | 🇨🇴 | Unknown

Unregistered | 1 |
CB Kortney Hause | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

Out On Loan | 12 |
M Finn Azaz | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Plymouth
CF Wesley | 🇧🇷 | Levante
W Jaden Philogene-Bidace | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Cardiff
CF Keinan Davis | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Watford
FB Ben Chrisene | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Kilmarnock
M Tim Iroegbunam | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | QPR
CF Cameron Archer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Middlesbrough
M Morgan Sanson | 🇫🇷 | Strasbourg
CF Louie Barry | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Salford City
M Aaron Ramsey | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Middlesbrough
M Marvelous Nakamba | 🇿🇼 | Luton Town
CB Lamare Bogarde | 🇳🇱 | Bristol Rovers

UNAVAILABLE

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Not Recorded

Player Positions:

GK : Goalkeeper
CB, D, B : Centre Back, Defender, Back
FB, LB, RB, WH : Full Back, Left Back, Right Back, Wing Back, Wing Half


M, CH, LH, RH : Midfielder, Centre Half, Left Half, Right Half
W, OL, OR : Winger, Outside Left, Outside Right
F, IF, IL, IR : Forward, Inside Forward, Inside Left, Inside Right, Second Striker, False 9
CF : Centre Forward

Match Symbols:

⚽ | Goal
🔥 | Assist
🔁 | Substitution

🟨 | Booking

🟥 | Sending off

🆘 | Poor refereeing performance
🟢 : Debut 🔴 : Final Game

DEBUT APPEARANCES

FINAL APPEARANCES

MATCH STATS

Possession F | 41%
Possession A | 59%
Shots F | 12
Shots A | 8
Shots on Target F | 5
Shots on Target A | 4
Corners F | 4
Corners A | 3
Fouls F | 15
Fouls A | 16

MATCH QUOTES

“THIS IS IT. This is what we have been playing for, what we have been building towards, what we have been working towards and what we have dreaming of this season. “Two months ago we spoke about whether we could get to the last match against Brighton at home playing for something important. Now it’s in our hands. We have enjoyed a lot in this amazing stadium, and we must do it one more time. “The season, in any case, is unforgettable. My first season at Villa, whatever happens, it has been an amazing trip with a great and talented group of players, our hardworking staff and the passionate and committed owners. “All of them deserve the credit of, no matter what happens today, a successful season that hopefully will become the first step of a long way of achievements. Aston Villa just started to fight for the positions that our fanbase and our history are a long time deserving. “To play for a European place we are facing Brighton. Honestly one of the most impacting teams I see in the last few seasons. My congratulations for their qualification for Europe and the way they made it I would like to welcome Roberto De Zerbi, his players and his staff and everyone connected with Brighton who is here today. They fully deserve their place in Europe next season. “More than ever, we are aware that it will be a difficult and high pressure match but we have played and enjoyed difficult matches together this season. “And our supporters will play a part today. Your support, both home and away, has been fantastic and we need your support again today to make Villa Park a difficult place to come and to help us all achieve our dreams together. “One last effort. Let’s do this together.” Unai Emery pre-match notes. ---- “We have this week the most important match we will face but we are trying to prepare like the last matches we’ve played; being motivated, enjoying the way and the process and waiting for our moment, our time, it’s coming on Sunday, with our supporters at Villa Park to enjoy this match. “Of course, the supporters could be happy when we’re winning and angry when we’re not but the expectation at Villa Park has been very good. Away as well, I have been so proud how they travel with us. We have to connect with them in each match, playing with them, trying to play with energy and push. Trying to understand as well the style we are trying to impose. “The pressure is amazing; it’s not really pressure to play for something. You have to be excited and motivated and enjoy the process. You have to focus only on the game plan. When you are focused trying to work hard with the style and idea, players are focused and practising, applying. It’s a good way, this is the moment we can feel, all you can do on the pitch only facing each moment about everything. That is, maybe, to play under pressure. The pressure is positive, not negative. It’s about playing for something important. I want pressure. “For me it means a lot, I played in Europe for 15 years in a row. Champions League and Europa League with Villarreal. To play in the Conference with Aston Villa will be amazing because I I don’t want a break [from Europe]. “What a team we’re going to face; a difficult team, they play amazing football. Their structure, tactically, is very strong. I enjoy it in the Premier League , the matches we’re playing and watching, and one of them is Brighton. “Of course, we have to be very ambitious. I am pushing everybody to get better. We have to do each step being strong and trying to be passionate to do it. We are this way. We’re progressing very well. The players are responding very well. But we are in the first step. If we get our objective on Sunday we will be very happy. It’s the first step this year; we’ve escaped from the bottom, got top 10 then the third objective is the European places It’s the most difficult step to get in. If we get it or not, it will not change our idea about how to improve. We will add some different players for the project next year. The most important players are here now. “The football is changing so quickly. I am now 51 years old, I started training when I was 32, that’s 19 years in a row as a manager. Always, I am very focused on how I can improve each day, to be better than yesterday. It’s not only about my work, my experiences, my analysis, my team, it’s trying to take experiences around me, one of them is De Zerbi. I like a lot of the coaches that can show us something different, tactically, defensively, offensively. “In football you have to be in the fast lane because it is so quick and you have to be very careful, trying to adapt and progress quickly. Now I think De Zerbi is doing something different. Other teams are doing good work; Sunderland in the Championship as well; Barnsley as well. I like to understand different coaches and managers. “I started knowing something about Brighton when I was playing in pre-season, they were in the Championship. I had a friendly with Seville. We played against Hughton as a coach; I played against him at Arsenal in the Premier League. I followed them with Potter and now De Zerbi, they’re different coaches with different styles and different players. Their city in Brighton is very connected with their team. They impress a lot of supporters. “In football you have to improve every day. For example, we are being strong defensively. We are feeling good in the moment without the ball. We’re improving with the ball. I want to improve more by being more aggressive without the ball and recover a little more higher. We are doing it sometimes but we feel better [playing] a bit lower. When we’re with the ball; we’re feeling progressively better at home. Away we’re not taking the same responsibility. These are the steps I want to do. “Every day in football you can improve with small details and you have to analyse deeply with each player, combination and the team to try and improve the details. Overall, I want to improve with the ball; we are keeping ball possession, how we can get comfortable and then defensively keep the same structure like we have been doing. But we can add something more aggressive to recover the ball - that’s the next step ahead. “To be in the English national team is very difficult. There’s a lot of good players. We are very proud of our players when they’re in the national team like Tyrone Mings. Watkins can progress, he has to be consistent if he’s to get there; Konsa as well. We’re so happy for Tyrone and for everybody. The players’ objectives is here and the national team; always try to get better here or to get the national team, try to improve as well. “We can improve. The example is this morning we were watching the last match we played at home against Tottenham, trying to understand how we can manage the game in our style. “We had a good match but I think we can improve. I think we will need more on Sunday to get three points against Brighton. The players have to be demanding, not critical, but realistic. The reality is we have to improve and we can improve.” “Each match is very different. It’s something like a final because it’s the last match after 37 games before, so it is going to give us reality. Brighton have already achieved their objective. They will play in Europe. “I think their performance is going to be similar because it is a team with a very strong structure. They are using different players but getting the same performances with different players. “On Sunday, maybe they will change something, but their structure is very strong. We have already achieved our objective but we are going to play to win by imposing our idea. That is the great challenge for me and the players. “I don’t think about where we were when I arrived here. Football is always about the next challenge you face and I don’t want to remember it. I want to face the next step, the match on Sunday and I want to enjoy this moment. “I told the players, this is our time, this is our moment and we have to enjoy it. We have to connect with our supporters. We are playing on Sunday for something very important. “It was very different last week. We were thinking maybe we could be playing for something. After drawing at Liverpool it is in our hands and we have something very important to enjoy and be motivated. “In football things happen so quickly and you have to be focused and face each moment with a good atmosphere and good energy. You have to be with the people around you, the players, the workers and the supporters. We are going to play at Villa Park and that is another positive for us.” Unai Emery pre-match. ---- “I am very proud. These players have really followed me for the last six months, it has been demanding and we are committed. “We finished perfectly in the last six matches at home, we beat a very good team and to achieve the European place is the best possible end. We will be in Europe which for me is very important. It has given me a lot, it is fantastic, another way and another trophy at the end. ”I am very proud of the players’ work, I have been very demanding and they have responded very well. At Villa Park our supporters have been very necessary for our work, our project - they were here with us today supporting us. “I am very thankful for every supporter. Historically this is a great team, we won the European Cup, a long time ago but we can now try to improve and get an ambitious step ahead. This is the first step. “Everyone is very happy with this step. Today was our moment. We have an ambitious objective, we are trying to build a strong spirit and a structure. We have time to work more next year and we have one more competition to play, it is an another option for a trophy. “Europe adds more matches and more difficult moments but I like that. It is very important for us. “I want it. I have played in Europe for 15 years and it is fantastic to have it.” Unai Emery post-match. --- “Wow….. Me? … Cry? I balled like a baby! Not sure what happened but got really emotional seeing this team complete the season, getting back into Europe after the start we had. Congratulations boys…..and Unai Emery? What a job, what a manager! VTWD!!” Ian Taylor, Villa midfielder 1996-2002. --- ”I don’t know if you can hear me. It has been a great comeback and we are looking forward to European football coming back to Villa Park. “The start of the season was not great for anyone, but we turned it around. Bring your passports and see you in Europe.” John McGinn. --- “The most important thing was to play to win, thinking to be focused on our game plan. Today was a special match. Brighton is very different. They tried every match to control ball possession and keep the ball up the pitch. They have players who are wide and can threaten us. We decided to be aggressive in our high pressing, more aggressive than usual. Brighton, they taken a risk with their build up because they believe in this way. We prepared for it. We did it good, not very good or fantastic, because sometimes they stopped up. The key was to not let them play easy. “I don’t like to speak about the pressure because you have to be comfortable only focusing each minute on the pitch, focusing on your task. The second half, I told them try to continue trying to keep game plan, we have to share long ball with trying to connect to our midfield because we are only going one direction with our build up. It was important to keep ball possession. Second half more or less I was pushing them and they did it. “When you’re working and focusing, and not having a lot of days to celebrate something, of course, you celebrate with family and friends, taking special moments. I’ve said 70% of our time is always working; focusing and preparing for matches. When you get your objective, it’s important to celebrate with players, friends and family. I want to enjoy what we’ve achieved. I think it’s fantastic. It wasn’t the first objective but our progression has been fantastic. The players were ambitious. We did it. It’s important to celebrate and be happy now to enjoy the moment. “Before the match we were speaking about how motivated they were because Wes Eden has come to the last three matches here at home. Nassef has been at more matches as well because he’s based closer in London. I think it’s amazing for them to be here to share with us, with the players and the fans. They are very important in this project. They are very committed and they are supporting me, always. It’s easier because we’re winning. It’s easy then, right? But in the last six months I’m very grateful for their support; their help. I’m proud they were with our fans because they are really the heart of the club. We are professionals but we have to involve our heart now with Villa fans to understand everything and to try to start living moments like today. I was speaking with the players; that is our moment, it’s our time, now, to connect with our supporters for another objective. Our fans are proud of us and we are going with them. “We were speaking about how the seventh position was a possibility to play in Europe. The seventh place is Conference, OK, and we started thinking. Our progression was going well and other teams were not being consistent. But when we won at Chelsea 2-0, we were in the 10th and 11th positions but we were with [the teams above]. When we got the top 10, we started thinking about the sixth or seventh position. Brighton had a great season and they deserved to be in the Europa League. Our position as well, we deserve it. I spoke with the players… I wanted to finish the season with them, not today but tomorrow or Tuesday. Some players will be with the national team and we’ll have holidays. I will now start preparing for next season. I will speak to the club. The club is working and I’m keeping in touch with the possibilities we can add [signings] for next year; speaking about who we can add and take the decision with players we already have here. Today, it was very important to be focused for this match. But we’ll start now thinking about the next project and be stronger than we have been. [With Europe] we can add 10, 12, 15 matches more. When I came here I was thinking about trying to be strong in the Premier League. It was the first competition. Again, I wanted to add possibilities to win trophies; Carabao Cup, FA Cup and, now, if we could add Europe in our way as well. It’s another way to win a trophy in the Conference. We have to analyse everything as best as possible about how we can create and build our structure with the players in our squad. Now’s about being thankful with every player given the work they did. It’s a new competition. I started it with Villarreal and I remember the matches we played, I enjoyed it a lot. Now with Villa we will add a new objective - a trophy, playing matches in different countries. I like it a lot and enjoy it a lot. Of course it will be more difficult with more matches, travel, but it is a big motivation to add more matches here on Thursdays at Villa Park. The supporters are very excited to travel.” Unai Emery, post match ---

MATCH REPORT