City kept pressure on leaders Arsenal with a superb 4-0 win away to Brighton.

With City out of Premier League action for 12 days, both the Gunners and Liverpool had moved above Pep Guardiola‘s side during the interim.

But, knowing six victories would guarantee another title, the Blues were at their ruthless best on the south coast, dispatching a Brighton side previously beaten just twice at home this campaign.

A first-half City blitz saw Phil Foden score twice after Kevin De Bruyne had opened the scoring.

Julian Alvarez added a fourth after the break to narrow the gap to Arsenal to just one point.

That leaves the Blues needing five more league wins to secure a fourth title on the bounce.

WHAT HAPPENED

It was evident, almost for the word go, that Brighton had a special plan for the visit of the champions.

There was little or no space for the City players to operate in, with the hosts closing down quickly and marking tightly.

It was a high press that would take a high level of fitness to maintain for 90 minutes and therefore something of a gamble.

The Blues’ passing, however, was precise and gradually gaps were found and on 17 minutes, the breakthrough.

Foden found Kyle Walker’s dart down the right, the skipper then spotted De Bruyne’s dash into the box and his cross saw the Belgian expertly send a diving header into the top right-hand corner with postage stamp accuracy.

De Bruyne’s reaction – a beaming smile and almost a shoulder shrug - was evidence enough that goals like that were few and far between in his magnificent career to date!

But it was going to get better for City – much better.

Nine minutes later, Foden was awarded a somewhat fortuitous free-kick on the edge of the Brighton box and, taking the shot himself, he saw his effort strike Pascal Gross and wrongfoot keeper Jason Steele to make it 2-0.

Eight minutes after, Foden had his 24th goal of a stunning campaign and Brighton only had themselves to blame.

Their determination to play intricate passing moves around their own goal had looked risky every time they tried it and there was an air of inevitability when Bernardo finally intercepted a loose ball, fed Foden who coolly passed the ball into the bottom corner of the net from 10 yards.

Even the most optimistic Blue wouldn’t have imagined City leading 3-0 at the Amex with 36 minutes played, but the advantage was thoroughly deserved.

The Seagulls came out fired up after the break, looking for the goal that would spark a comeback of sorts, but City weathered the early pressure and were soon creating chances at the other end.

The fourth and decisive City goal came just past the hour and Ederson played a huge role, pumping a 60-yard ball into the path of Walker who closed in on goal, collided with the keeper and Alvarez swept home his first goal in 10 games from close range.

There were half-chances at either end in the time that remained, but City comfortably saw out the rest of the game without too many issues.

An impressive win and a flawless performance.

Pep reaction

“We have been here in the past but it doesn’t mean it is going to happen [win the title]. We have to do the things to make it happen.

“We know Brighton never give up and in the first half we found the right rhythm and we scored in the right moments. In the right moments, we punished them. Brighton away is always very tough.

“[The Arsenal goal difference advantage] is difficult to cut. The margin is so big. They score a lot of goals and don’t concede.

“The main thing is to win the game. We have five games left and they are tough ones. One game at a time. Now recover and then Nottingham Forest.”

KDB & FODEN REACTION

KDB on statement win: “Yeah it was a good game. I think we played really well in the first half. I don’t know about ‘statement’.

“Obviously every game has a lot of pressure. But the only thing we can do is try to perform as well as we did today and win the game ahead and that’s what we have done. 

Foden on gameplan: “They’re a very challenging team. They like to go man to man, they play beautiful football.

“But I thought with Kev’s first goal and a bit of luck with my goal it settled us a little bit. We grew into the game and found where the space was. I thought in the first half we were frightening with the way we attacked.”

KDB on his header: “It doesn’t happen too much does it? I don’t know,  Kyle gave a good cross. The defender wanted to head it and to reach it I had to jump. It goes in and I’ll take it. Not something I’m really good at!” 

Foden on positional ambitions: “Yeah, I’ve always said I see myself centrally. This year I’ve moved more inside and helped my game. Playing with the best players in the world like Kev helps my game. It’s where I want to be to create and score. I’m just enjoying my football.”

KDB on Foden: “I think he’ll end up centrally. He was always a number 10 and it’s hard to understand everything you need to do in a Pep team.

“Its more the structure of it and on the wing you get more freedom. Even today we didn’t play with any wingers and we both played centrally. Phil does what he does for six, seven years. He’s been doing this for years and helped us win titles. This season he’s gone up a level.”

Premier League
2 Liverpool FC Liverpool Liverpool 28 19 7 2 65 26 39 64 WWWWD
3 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 28 19 6 3 63 28 35 63 DWWWD
4 Aston Villa FC Aston Villa A Villa 29 17 5 7 60 42 18 56 WWWLD
Last updated: 27 March 2024

TEAMS

BRIGHTON XI: Steele, Veltman (Offiah 46), Van Hecke, Dunk, Barco; Gross, Baleba, Lallana (Adingtra 46), Moder (Igor 56), Joao Pedro, Welbeck (O’Mahoney 75)

Subs: Verbruggen, Webster, Enciso, Fati, Buonanotte

CITY XI: Ederson, Walker (Lewis 78), Akanji, Aké, Gvardiol, Rodrigo (Gomez 79), Kovacic, De Bruyne (Nunes 72), Bernardo (Doku 78), Foden (Grealish 71), Alvarez

Subs:  Ortega Moreno, Dias, Stones,  Bobb

STAR MAN: foden

Sparkling, incisive and full of wonderful skill and industry, Phil Foden takes the honours, though honourable mentions for the superb Kevin De Bruyne and the excellent Kyle Walker.

50 up for magic PHIL

The Club rightly marked the 100-goal milestone for Kevin De Bruyne recently as our Belgian ace became the first City midfielder since Colin Bell to achieve a century of strikes.

It looks like it won’t be long before we are celebrating that same feat again with Phil Foden who looks likely to reach three figures before he is 25.

His two against Brighton took him to 51 Premier League goals and with a total of 84, the 23-year-old has scored eight more than any previous season and he still has the possibility of more with six more games this campaign.

The Stockport-born star is having the season of his life.

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WHAT IT MEANS

City move up into second spot in the table and now trail Arsenal by just one point.

The Blues have played one game less, but the North London side have a goal difference that is +8 better at this stage.

Liverpool drop to third in the table.

WHAT’S NEXT?

City travel to Nottingham Forest on Sunday, kick-off is scheduled for 16:30 (UK).

Arsenal are away to Tottenham earlier in the day, so the Premier League title race will have edged a little closer to a potentially thrilling conclusion.

The Blues will then host Wolves at the Etihad six days later on Saturday, 4 May with a kick-off scheduled for 17:30.

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