Brighton secure European football with 3-1 win over Southampton

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Brighton & Hove Albion ensured they will play in Europe next season for the first time in their history after beating Southampton 3-1 at the Amex Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday, with teenage striker Evan Ferguson scoring twice.

Brighton are sixth on 61 points and can no longer be caught by eighth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, meaning they are guaranteed a spot in Europe next season -- either in the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

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"It's incredible, one of the best days in my career," Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi told the BBC. "I am really proud to be coach of these players and the club. We won together, and I am really proud.

"They believed from the first moment that they deserved to qualify, we had a tough period, we lost a lot of players to injury but when you have something inside, you push to the end to your target."

After Kaoru Mitoma and Carlos Alcaraz both squandered chances in a lively start, Brighton went ahead in the 29th minute through Ferguson's powerful effort, which squirmed under Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

A moment of individual brilliance from Mitoma doubled Brighton's advantage 10 minutes later, as the Japan international outmuscled Romeo Lavia on the left wing before setting up Ferguson with a pinpoint cross with the outside of his boot.

Mohammed Elyounoussi got on the end of a James Ward-Prowse corner in the 58th minute to pull one back for Southampton and the goal appeared to momentarily stun Brighton.

Southampton launched several attacks in the next few minutes and Theo Walcott had a goal disallowed for offside after a VAR check, but any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out when Pascal Gross cut inside and fired a low shot past two defenders inside the near post.

Brighton's fans, who were watching their team in the third-tier League One just 12 years ago, were in full party mode and the hosts nearly gave them a fourth goal to cheer, but McCarthy made an excellent save to deny Gross's low shot.

Bottom club Southampton, who have already been relegated, remained on 24 points.

Southampton manager Ruben Selles rued his side's inability to seize their chances, but praised his players for creating opportunities.

"We had the first big chance with Alcaraz one-on-one and then we conceded two goals very quickly," Selles said. "Then we scored the goal [Walcott] and it's a situation that happens more than not when we score a goal this season and then it's disallowed.

"It was a disappointing moment but it was not the only moment. We show we are here ready to play and compete against one of the best teams in the league."