Manchester City returned to winning ways in the Premier League and the top of the table after a tough 2-1 victory against Brighton at the Etihad Stadium.
Goals from striking duo Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland in a largely dominant first-half of action were enough to earn the victory, despite the hosts going down to 10 men towards the closing stages
Manchester City hosted Robert De Zerbi’s side in a tactical affair in the first game back after the second international break of the campaign. Pep Guardiola and the Italian coach embraced for a long time on the touchline before going to their respective dugouts for kick-off.
A large memorial banner dedicated to the late Francis Lee was unveiled before the first whistle and was met with a standing ovation from the Etihad faithful – a great showing of respect from both sets of fans.
The first chance of the game came from Manchester City’s left-hand side through Jeremy Doku. Phil Foden picked up the ball and drove into the heart of the Brighton midfield before finding the Belgian, who cut inside and fired wide.
The 21-year-old was involved again just a minute later and set up the opener, dancing past Pascal Gross on the left and playing the ball back to Alvarez, who made no mistake in finding his fourth goal of the campaign.
Just over 10 minutes later, Haaland pounced onto a loose ball following a Brighton throw-in and smashed the ball past Jason Steele from outside the box to double City’s lead. The Norwegian has nine goals this season and could be well on his way to a second consecutive Golden Boot award.
Play was stopped for a brief moment towards the end of the first half for a VAR check involving an altercation between Alvarez and Pascal Gross. The latter initiated the conflict and the Argentine responded with a shove – nothing came of it and the game was allowed to continue.
The treble winners went into half-time two goals to the good after a relentless and comfortable performance, with the majority of City attacks launched by summer signing Jeremy Doku. The visitors posed little threat towards Stefan Ortega Moreno’s goal in the first 45 minutes.
De Zerbi’s team had the first real chance of the second half after a poor kick from Ortega Moreno. The German only found a Brighton shirt and Gross was played into the City penalty area. The defence were quick on their feet and put off the midfielder as he hit his shot wide.
Haaland forced a save from Steele following a superb lofted pass from Foden. The number nine controlled the ball well and cut back in onto his dangerous left foot but failed to find the back of the net.
Ortega Moreno was called into action after a Brighton counterattack fell to Japanese international Kaoru Mitoma. The goalkeeper read the sitiuation well and blocked the shot.
The introduction of Ansu Fati brought more possession and chances for Brighton as they got one back in the 73rd minute. Mitoma found space on the left and put a ball into the box. A poor clearance from Akanji fell to the feet of Fati, who finished it off past Ortega.
City faced another challenge in the closing stages as Akanji received a second yellow card for pulling Fati back and stopping Brighton from seeking a leveller. A tough victory and three points send the Blues top of the Premier League on goal difference.
Here’s how Pep Guardiola’s men fared on their return to winning ways in the Premier League!
Stefan Ortega – 6
Had little to do in terms of shot stopping and has distributed well – a few of his kicks went to Brighton. Couldn’t do much about the goal.
Kyle Walker – 6
Stuggled a little with Mitoma but doubled up with John Stones to fix the issue and tighten the ship in the first half. Struggled in the second half.
Manuel Akanji – 5
Looked comfortable in possession and has had little threat from Joao Pedro. Picked up a yellow card for impeding Mitoma and then a second yellow for stopping Ansu Fati. Failed clearance led to the Fati goal.
Josko Gvardiol – 7
Worked well in supporting Jeremy Doku on the left. Had little to do defensively and looks to have settled into the team well.
John Stones – 7
Moved all over the pitch with Rodri and was effective at moving the ball forwards into midfield and the final third. Came off in the 74th minute, still not fully fit for 90 minutes.
Rodri – 7
Makes it look effortless on the ball, strong passing range and found Doku often. Picked up a yellow card towards the end of the first half for kicking the ball away.
Bernardo Silva – 7
Supported Doku well on the left and moved fluently throughout the midfield. Always reliable on the ball and contributed to every attack.
Phil Foden – 8
Elegant on the ball, always a threat when dribbling into the the middle from the right and caused the Brighton defence a lot of problems.
Jeremy Doku – 9 (MOTM)
Always a threat when on the ball. Caused James Milner a lot of problems all game and was at the forefront of most City attacks. Came off in the 74th minute.
Julian Alvarez – 8
Took his goal well and was the link between the midfield and the attack. Didn’t stop running and constantly pressed the Brighton players. Came off in the 96th minute.
Erling Haaland – 8
Great finish for his goal and was ready to run in behind at any moment. Forced a good save from Steele. Didn’t have many opportunities as most attacks went to Doku’s side.
Ruben Dias – 6
Defended well and helped close the game out. Allowed City to get more of the ball and control the final minutes.
Jack Grealish – 5
Had little impact offensively. Helped to defend the lead in the closing minutes of the game. Got a yellow card for dissent.
Nathan Ake – 6
Didn’t have much time to impact the game as he came on with 2 minutes to play. Helped close out the game for City.
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