Brighton 0-4 Manchester City: Sensational City pile pressure on league leaders after South Coast masterclass

A wonderful Manchester City performance at the American Express Stadium sees them end the evening just one point adrift of the Premier League summit.

Goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, and Julian Alvarez secured the goods for Pep Guardiola’s side, whilst Brighton remain in the bottom half of the table after a disappointing outing in front of their home supporters.

As it happened

Entering East Sussex four points off the top of the table with two games in hand on their title rivals, the pressure was on Manchester City to secure three points and pile the pressure on Arsenal and Liverpool ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.

It was a positive approach from the get-go from De Zerbi’s Seagulls, with striker Danny Welbeck firing the first half-chance of the match comfortably into the hands of Ederson.

Manchester City began to slowly grow into the game, enjoying a greater share of possession and carving out a chance of their own, which Nathan Ake sent over the crossbar.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to land the first punch though as Phil Foden picked out a marauding Kyle Walker down the right flank.

The City captain’s cross met Kevin De Bruyne who made no mistake, launching a powerful and inch-perfect header into the top-corner.

Not long after the opener, a mazy run from Foden saw him brought down just outside the box to set-up a free-kick in a dangerous area.

The Englishman’s dead ball effort deflected off an unfortunate Pascal Groß and into the back of the net, opening up a cushioned lead for the Treble winners to fall back on.

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Since the opening exchanges, City were ruthless. The intensity of their high-press oftentimes left Brighton with no way out of their defensive third, and one pass too many was the perfect foundation for City’s third of the match.

Handed his first Premier League start this evening, 19-year-old Valentin Barco’s risky pass was cut out by an eager Bernardo Silva whose interception fell neatly into the path of Foden.

The versatile attacker’s curling effort nestled into Steele’s bottom-right corner to mark his 16th goal of the league season and see City through to half-time three goals to the good.

De Zerbi made two changes to his struggling Brighton side at the break, with Simon Adingra and Odeluga Offiah replacing Adam Lallana and Joel Veltman.

Pascal Groß’ early penalty cries following a tussle with Rodri were dismissed by both the on-field referee Jarred Gillett and VAR John Brooks.

The Spaniard held the arm of Groß as he entered the penalty box, but the contact wasn’t deemed grave enough to award a spot-kick.

Playing out from the back almost proved costly once against for Albion, this time carving out an opportunity for Julian Álvarez to have a pop, but his attempt soared over the crossbar – though it wouldn’t be long before he had a second chance.

A long ball over the Brighton defence found Walker, whose determined run set up the Argentinian World Cup winner to slot home City’s fourth of the evening.

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The Seagulls were once again asking for a penalty, this time for a foul on João Pedro by Josko Gvardiol.

The Brazilian forward danced his way through the City defence before tangling legs with Gvardiol and falling to the Amex grass – though the decision once again was for play to continue.

Matheus Nunes, Jack Grealish, Jérémy Doku, Sergio Gómez, and Rico Lewis were introduced to the mix as the game went on, with Guardiola using the lead as an opportunity to rest some of his most key players in De Bruyne, Foden, Bernardo, Walker, and Rodri ahead of a busy end to the season.

João Pedro came close to a late consolation goal for the visitors, but his close-range effort was poked wide of Ederson’s post.

The lineups

BHA: Steele; Veltman, van Hecke, Dunk, Barco; Groß, Baleba; Lallana, Moder, Pedro; Welbeck

MCI: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Ake, Gvardiol; Rodri, Kovačić; De Bruyne, Bernardo, Foden; Álvarez