Caltex Socceroos goalkeeper Mathew Ryan helped Brighton & Hove Albion celebrate their English Premier League survival with a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Monday morning (AEST).
Albion had their top-flight status confirmed after Cardiff's 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace in the early hours of Sunday morning, and issued a reminder of their top-flight credentials by securing a hard-fought point at the Emirates.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sent Ryan the wrong way from the penalty spot to give Arsenal a ninth-minute lead, but the Australian shot stopper pulled off a great stop to claw out a low drive from the Gabonese striker – and made two saves from Shkodran Mustafi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – to keep the Seagulls within touching distance at half time.
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Featured image: Brighton and Hove Albion
Ryan’s heroics paid dividends when Brighton forward Glenn Murray restored parity from the penalty spot on the hour mark, ensuring Chris Hughton’s side avoided defeat away from home against ‘big six’ opposition for the first time in their Premier League history.
The former Central Coast Mariner was not the only Australian who helped end the UEFA Champions League hopes of an English giant earlier this morning, as Aaron Mooy’s Huddersfield Town held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw.
Having missed Town’s 5-0 drubbing at Liverpool last week, Mooy returned to the starting XI for United’s visit and played the full 90 minutes. Scottish midfielder Scott McTominay opened the scoring for the Red Devils but Isaac Mbenza’s second-half equaliser allowed the already-relegated Terriers to end their final home match of the campaign on a high.
Irvine and Luongo sign off in style
Hull City finished the Championship season in 13th place after a 1-1 draw against Bristol City yesterday, and midfielder Jackson Irvine scored a beauty.
The Caltex Socceroo broke the deadlock early in the second period with a superb left-footed strike from the edge of the area, only for that effort – his fifth of the campaign – to be cancelled out by a 90th-minute Markus Henriksen own goal.
Massimo Luongo was also involved on the final day of the Championship campaign, teeing up Matt Smith’s stoppage-time winner in Queens Park Rangers’ 2-1 defeat of Sheffield Wednesday.
Luongo’s cross for QPR front man Smith stole all three points for the Hoops, who had seen Josh Scowen’s 28th-minute opener wiped out by a Michael Hector penalty six minutes from time. QPR finish the campaign in 19th place.
Contrasting fortunes for Amini and Mabil
Mustafa Amini played the full match as AGF beat AaB Aalborg 1-0 in the first leg of their domestic playoff for a UEFA Europa League place on Sunday night. The second leg kicks off next Monday morning (2:00am AEST).
But the Danish Superliga dream is over for FC Midtjylland and Awer Mabil.
Copenhagen had already sealed the league title with a 3-2 win over Brondby before Mabil's side went down 3-1 to Odense Boldklub. Mabil played the full 90 minutes.
It is not all doom and gloom for the Caltex Socceroo, though, with Midtjylland now looking forward to facing Brondby in the Danish Cup final on Saturday, May 18.