Match Report

City beat Brighton to reclaim top spot

City beat Brighton to reclaim top spot
Premier League
Premier League
Wed 20 Apr
3
0
Riyad Mahrez 
(53'),  

Phil Foden 
(65'),  

Bernardo Silva 
(82')

Manchester City returned to winning ways and the top of the Premier League with a comfortable victory over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola’s side bounced back from our FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool with a 3-0 win that restores our one-point lead over Jurgen Klopp’s men, who temporarily took pole position following their 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United on Tuesday.

After a frustrating first half, our patience was rewarded after the break when Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden both scored via deflections, before Bernardo Silva sealed the three points with a precise finish that confirmed Guardiola's 250th win as City boss.

Kevin De Bruyne, making his 300th appearance for the Club, was the architect for the opener, surging through midfield and holding off two defenders before a deflection took the ball into the path of Mahrez, who beat Robert Sanchez with close-range effort that deflected off the outstretched leg of Lewis Dunk.

That slice of good fortunate eased the tension inside the Etihad and Lady Luck was on City’s side again 12 minutes later when Foden doubled the lead to put the hosts in control of the contest.

Picked out on the edge of the area by a Mahrez corner, the Academy graduate saw his low 20-yard drive nestle in the bottom corner after a wicked deflection off Enock Mwepu wrongfooted Sanchez in the Brighton goal.

A tame Danny Welbeck header was the only save Ederson had to make and, with City looking increasingly dominant, Bernardo put the result beyond doubt after Brighton were punished trying to play out from the back.

Oleksandr Zinchenko intercepted Sanchez’s pass, allowing De Bruyne to turn the ball into the Portuguese midfielder’s path and he curled a sumptuous first-time finish into the bottom left corner from 18-yards to wrap up a patient and deserved victory.

Patience rewarded

City’s trademark fluidity appeared to have deserted us in a frustrating opening 45-minutes.

There were fleeting moments of quality, but that decisive final ball proved elusive as we struggled to penetrate Brighton’s compact defence.

When we did, De Bruyne and Foden were at the heart of it, exchanging passes before the former fired a low drive inches wide of the post.

They did the same again to create an opportunity for Bernardo, who evaded the attentions of four defenders to dig out a curling effort which looked destined for the top corner until Sanchez clawed it away.

The Seagulls’ goalkeeper was given a reprieve when a careless pass sent straight to the feet of Mahrez went unpunished thanks to a superb recovery tackle from Moises Caicedo, but those decisive moments went City’s way in the second period.

The double deflection which led to the opener gave City the freedom to go on and win a game that, up until that point, felt delicately balanced.

There was an element of luck, but no team has won a Premier League without moments of good fortune and City took full advantage, adding two more goals to ensure the scoreline reflected the balance of play.

DIAS RETURNS

After three consecutive games on the bench, Ruben Dias returned to make his first appearance since picking up a hamstring injury against Peterborough United in March.

The Portuguese defender replaced Nathan Ake at half-time, who appeared to be struggling with an injury in the final minutes of the first half, and more than lived up to Guardiola’s pre-match prediction that he was than ready to perform after a seven-week absence.

A robust tackle on Alexis Mac Allister immediately after the restart was evidence of that and, the Catalan will be pleased to have such an influential figure available again.

Pep Guardiola reaction

"The way we defended was good. Today we were so dynamic, we were so aggressive without the ball. Before we could not do it for many reasons, we were mentally fatigued in the last games.

"If you want to make this step you have to come back to those terms and the defence will help us to do that. Today they were brilliant. The people will see that. They will seem the team were alive. They pressed to regain the ball and after the transitions with Kevin, Bernardo and Phil, we did it.

"In the first half we didn’t concede a lot. In the second half in the first three or four minutes after kick-off we didnt take the ball but once we arrived there we were so aggressive in the final third and in the end we found the goals."

Man of the Match: Kevin De Bruyne

It was a landmark night for the Belgian as he clocked up a triple century of appearances in a sky-blue shirt and he ensured he would remember the milestone fondly with a typically influential performance.

The 30-year-old looked the most likely to make something happen as City struggled to make the breakthrough in the first half and, when it arrived, it was as a result of his powerful surging run.

Another classy and tireless display from a player who is in excellent form at a critical moment in the campaign.

As it stands

Premier League
1 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 14 12 1 1 33 11 22 37 WDWWW
2 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 14 10 2 2 40 14 26 32 LWWWL
3 Newcastle United FC Newcastle United Newcastle 15 8 6 1 29 11 18 30 WWWWW
Last updated: 29 November 2022

Stat Zone

This was Foden’s 50th Premier League start, making him the youngest player at 21 years and 237 days to reach a half century of starts under Guardiola.

Mahrez was making his 250th Premier League appearance and is the first Algerian to reach that milestone.

What it means

City are unbeaten in six league games, winning eight of our last 12 matches in the top flight.

Guardiola’s men have recorded 24 victories in total so far – the most in the division – and are on 77 points ahead of the final six games of the season.

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TEAMS

CITY: Ederson, Cancelo, Stones (Zinchenko 77'), Laporte, Ake (Dias 46'), Rodrigo, Gundogan (C), De Bruyne, Mahrez, Bernardo, Foden.

SUBS: Steffen, Sterling, Jesus, Grealish, Fernandinho, Palmer, Lavia.

BRIGHTON: Sanchez, Veltman, Dunk, Cucurella, Lamptey (Webster 61'), Gross, Caicedo (Sarmiento 73'), March, Mac Allister, Mwepu, Welbeck (Maupay 77').

SUBS: Lallana, Steele, McGill, Leonard, Offiah, Ferguson.

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