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The moment of magic that decided the game…
How often does a piece of individual brilliance, crafted from the fabulous feet of the mercurial Kevin De Bruyne, prove to be crucial in securing victory?
A mere 193 seconds had passed before the Belgian – still finding his feet upon returning from injury, it must be noted – weaved his magic.
Collecting Bernardo Silva’s lay-off, De Bruyne barely even glanced up before executing the perfect low, bouncing delivery – a defenders’ nightmare ball – into the path of Gabriel Jesus, who had the simple task of stooping to convert.
The fact that City’s achievements this season have been gained largely in De Bruyne’s absence is testament to our strength in depth – but should the midfielder continue to improve game by game, he could play a pivotal role, as Pep Guardiola’s men continue the hunt for glory.
Our Man of the Match – and one of the stars of the season.
Aymeric Laporte continues to shine at the heart of the City defence – in addition to providing an unexpected attacking threat.
It was the Frenchman’s pinpoint floated ball that found Bernardo in the build-up to the matchwinner, but it would be his defensive expertise which proved key.
Brighton’s best chance of an equaliser saw Shane Duffy beat Ederson to the ball from a corner, heading down into the six-yard box. With Glenn Murray waiting to pounce, Laporte reacted rapidly, hooking the ball over the crossbar to preserve our clean sheet.
It was certainly a case of being in the right place at the right time and the defender has an impressive nous for doing just that.
Guardiola is of course, no stranger to success, having led his sides to an astonishing 24 trophies during a glittering managerial career.
One which has evaded him thus far however, is the FA Cup, and the Catalan admitted that lifting the trophy would be a personal milestone.
“When I was young in Catalonia you saw the final of FA Cup more than Premier League games,” he said.
“The tradition, the fans, the managers. I cannot deny how nice it would be for me personally.
“The club has won it five times and we want another one, so we will try.”
Another record smashed!
Gabriel Jesus’ early opener served to secure victory, making history in the process.
The effort would mark City’s 20th FA Cup goal this season – an incredible feat – and the most of any team in the 2018/19 campaign.
That goal ensured Guardiola’s men became the first side to score as many within a single campaign in the competition since Chelsea did so back in 2011-12.
Twenty is our best return since the 1980/81 season. Here’s hoping for one or two more, come May…
Saturday’s clash heralded the welcome inclusion of Benjamin Mendy to action, as Guardiola made seven changes to the side which faced Cardiff in the Premier League in midweek.
His return to action could not be more timely – with Oleks Zinchenko ruled out for 10 to 12 days and a gruelling run of fixtures coming up.
The Frenchman, who had clocked up just 28 minutes of football in 2019, impressed his manager, particularly in the second half.
Guardiola also provided updates on Sergio Aguero (who missed the clash) and Kyle Walker (who was substituted at half-time with a hamstring problem, following a tussle with Alireza Jahanbakhsh just before the break), explaining he will assess the pair in the training sessions ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League trip to Tottenham.
As Guardiola has affirmed throughout the campaign, squad depth and competition will be vital this season, particularly in the coming weeks.
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