Despite both sides creating chances in the first 45, Gareth Taylor’s side took control soon after the restart with four goals in just six minutes.
It was a devastating reminder of what City can produce at the sharp end of the pitch, with a memorable afternoon enhanced further by the welcome returns of Lucy Bronze and captain Steph Houghton to the first team fold after lengthy injury lay-offs.
After claiming successive victories leading into the festive break, City picked up where we left off in the opening exchanges at the People’s Pension Stadium.
Our tireless press from the front ensured Taylor’s side effectively pinned the hosts in their own half early on, with Hemp going close to drawing first blood inside three minutes.
The winger’s header stung the palms of Megan Walsh and the Brighton stopper pounced on the loose ball to prevent both Raso and Alanna Kennedy from tapping home on the rebound.
It was an indication of the confidence and intensity that City had started the game with, demonstrated once again by Seagulls’ defender Maya Le Tissier’s vital clearance at the far post from Stanway's vicious low cross.
But Brighton were far from out of the contest, with Karima Taieb sharp off her line to beat Kayleigh Green to a knockdown before play was stopped for an offside in the build-up.
That slight opening helped the hosts grow back into the game, with the remainder of the opening 45 a far more evenly matched affair.
Indeed, Hope Powell’s side crafted a decent sight of goal as half-time approached when Inessa Kaagman hooked a clever effort just wide of the far post after a searching ball in from the right.
But after threatening in the first 45, City took the game by the scruff of the neck with a ruthless demonstration of our attacking intent soon after the restart.
The onslaught began when Williams diverted Hemp’s cross from the left into her own net with White primed to pounce on 48 minutes.
Hemp then turned from provider to scorer just two minutes later, lofting the ball sumptuously over the stranded Walsh to double our advantage.
City’s devastating flurry continued apace as Stanway found the bottom corner in the 51st minute after Brighton had failed to properly clear their lines.
And Coombs made it four just ten minutes after the restart when she intercepted a loose Danielle Bowman pass before rifling an effort into the top corner from 25 yards.
It could even have been five before the hour as Stanway blazed over the bar from inside the area, but a memorable second 45 was compounded by the welcome return of captain Steph Houghton for the final 20 minutes of the action.
The skipper, making her first appearance since September, offered a typically commanding presence from the heart of defence and it was her lofted pass in to White which conjured a fifth for City.
The forward flicked the ball into the path of the onrushing Raso, who raced in behind and convincingly dispatched her third goal in as many matches as the 75-minute mark approached.
Substitute Losada got in on the act soon after, cleverly shifting the ball onto her right foot before her deflected effort soared into the corner of Walsh’s net, with the stopper rooted to the spot.
City were almost in seventh heaven late on, but White was denied the goal her performance warranted after Le Tissier cleared the ball off the Brighton line.
Nonetheless, Taylor's side played with a supreme confidence at the People's Pension Stadium, with our convincing victory sending a message to the rest of the WSL of our intentions going into 2022.
Player of the Match: Lauren Hemp
A vintage display from the winger, who added to a special week in which she signed a new long-term deal at the Club with a goal and assist.
Hemp's directness, turn of pace and low centre of gravity made her a constant thorn in the side of the Brighton defence, with her early contribution to our goalscoring flurry proving vital in the game's eventual outcome.
How we lined up
Gareth Taylor made three changes to the side who snatched a dramatic win over Birmingham last time out.
Captain Steph Houghton was also named on the bench - available for the first time since September.
City XI: Taieb, Bronze (Mace 69'), Kennedy, Greenwood (Houghton 69'), Stokes (Beckie 60'), Walsh (Angeldahl 69'), Stanway, Coombs, Hemp (Losada 60'), Raso, White
Subs: Keating, Scott, Park
Brighton XI: Walsh, Kerkdijk (Bowman 45'), Le Tissier, Williams, Kaagman (Symonds 59'), Connolly (Simpkins 84'), Whelan, Brazil, Green, Carter (Robinson 84'), Koivisto
Subs: Startup, Gibbons, Bowman, Bance, Kullberg, Zigiotti Olme
What it means
Our emphatic victory moves City up to fifth in the WSL table, four points off the Champions League places.
Manchester City haven’t lost our opening WSL match of a calendar year since 2014 (0-1 v Liverpool), winning four of their last seven such matches (D3).
Of sides they have faced more than twice in the Women’s Super League, only vs Aston Villa (4.7) do Manchester City average more goals per game than against Brighton (4.5 – 27 goals in six encounters).
City are just the second side to score 6+ goals in the second half of a WSL match, after Arsenal vs Bristol City in December 2019.
City are back in Continental Cup action on Wednesday 12 January when we face Leicester City in our final Group A match.
We were due to complete our Conti Cup group stage campaign with a visit to the Foxes on Wednesday 15 December but the game was postponed due to positive COVID-19 cases within the squad.
Our trip to the Pirelli Stadium, Burton has been rearranged for Wednesday 12 January at 19:00 (UK time), as the two sides compete for a place in the quarter-finals.
To reach the knock-out stages, we require three points against Leicester to secure top spot.
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