West Ham United heading to UECL as Seagulls burst Europa bubble
Brighton & Hove Albion beat West Ham United 3-1 in the Premier League (PL), meaning the ‘Seagulls’ still haven’t lost against the East Londoners since 2012 – when they were still in the Championship – and the ‘Hammers’ will play UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) football next season.
West Ham came into the game knowing they had secured European football for a second consecutive season, with it yet to be decided whether they’d be playing in the UEFA Europa League or UECL. Meanwhile, Brighton were aiming to secure their first-ever PL top-10 finish. With neither team taking full control, the first real flashpoint came in the 40th minute, thanks to superb work from Michail Antonio. The striker held off Lewis Dunk before firing a venomous strike into the top corner from the edge of the box with his left foot – taking his tally to 10 PL goals for the third consecutive season.
Graham Potter brought Neal Maupay on for Yves Bissouma at HT as the ‘Seagulls’ aimed to carry more of an attacking threat. The Frenchman got a strike off within three minutes of his introduction, but it was saved fairly routinely. It was a less likely source that equalised, as Joël Veltman scored his first league goal of the season in the 50th minute, latching onto Solly March’s pass and hitting a shot that snuck under Łukasz Fabiański.
Danny Welbeck also had an opportunity shortly after the hour mark but sent his effort from a tight angle marginally wide of the far post. Having not started any of the previous three matches, Adam Webster almost joined his fellow defender on the scoresheet with a powerful header that narrowly missed the target as the game entered its final quarter-hour. Pascal Groß was the man to put Brighton ahead in the 80th minute, turning away from Tomáš Souček and firing into the top corner.
There wasn’t much for the traveling support to shout about in the latter stages, but Mark Noble was given a warm reception when he came on for his 550th and final West Ham appearance. Welbeck rounded off the scoring with a header in the 92nd minute, as Brighton earned the win to secure 10th, ending the campaign unbeaten in five. Meanwhile, West Ham have just one win from their last eight away PL matches, failing to capitalise on Manchester United losing against Crystal Palace, meaning the ‘Hammers’ take seventh and a UECL place.