Premier League
Man CityManchester City1BrightonBrighton & Hove Albion0

Manchester City 1-0 Brighton: Phil Foden scores only goal for Pep Guardiola's side

By Michael EmonsBBC Sport
Phil Foden
With eight goals in all competitions, Phil Foden is now Manchester City's top goalscorer this season

Manchester City extended their unbeaten run to 14 matches in all competitions with a hard-fought win over struggling Brighton.

Phil Foden grabbed the only goal just before half-time when he collected Kevin de Bruyne's pass, created space and fired into the bottom corner.

The hosts had chances to extend the lead, Riyad Mahrez shooting just wide, Ilkay Gundogan seeing an effort saved by Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez and Bernardo Silva hitting the crossbar. Most culpably, Raheem Sterling sent an injury-time penalty over the bar after Sanchez had fouled De Bruyne.

Alexis Mac Allister had perhaps the Seagulls' best chance to equalise but shot over the top.

City's fourth straight win in the league moved them up to third. Brighton, meanwhile, have now not won in nine league matches and are just two points ahead of 18th-placed Fulham, who have two games in hand.

From the bottom half to title challengers

City have now not lost since 21 November when they were beaten 2-0 at Tottenham, a result that left Pep Guardiola's side 11th in the Premier League.

However, their form has been superb since then with 11 wins and three draws in all competitions, and only three goals conceded in that period. Across league and cups, they have now won seven in a row.

What makes those statistics even more impressive is that Guardiola has repeatedly been without key players because of coronavirus, with goalkeeper Ederson, defender Kyle Walker and forwards Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres among those to have missed recent matches.

Against Brighton, City were missing striker Sergio Aguero, the Argentine self-isolating following contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. With Sterling, Jesus and Torres starting on the bench, De Bruyne operated as a makeshift centre-forward.

And the Belgium international was at the heart of City's best moves. He had a shot saved by Sanchez from a tight angle then released Mahrez, who could only shoot wide.

But just before half-time De Bruyne grabbed his ninth Premier League assist of the season when he slid a pass to Foden and the 20-year-old England midfielder did the rest, taking three touches to evade the Brighton defenders and then shooting past Sanchez.

Mahrez, Gundogan, Silva, Joao Cancelo and De Bruyne all had efforts inside the opening 20 minutes of the second half as City pushed for a second to kill the game off.

Sterling, who came on in the 82nd minute as a replacement for Foden, fired a penalty over in stoppage time after Sanchez's clumsy foul on De Bruyne.

City, champions in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and runners-up last time, are right back in contention. They are now only four points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand on their rivals.

Brighton lack cutting edge needed to get a point

Brighton, without a win in the Premier League since they beat Aston Villa 2-1 on 21 November, will be encouraged by their battling performance, but lacked the quality up front to get a point.

Graham Potter's side had to wait 40 minutes for their first corner, and then the delivery was poor and City quickly broke with De Bruyne forcing a fine save from Sanchez.

The Seagulls did not have a shot on target until 10 minutes into the second half and that was no trouble for Ederson as Davy Propper's strike was straight at him.

Percy Tau, making his Premier League debut more than two years after signing for Brighton, set up Mac Allister, who shot narrowly over.

Potter brought on top goalscorer Neal Maupay for Tau for the last 22 minutes, but the Frenchman could not inspire an equaliser.

Another clean sheet for City - the stats

  • Manchester City have won their past four Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 11 in the competition (won four, drew five, lost two).
  • Brighton are without a win in nine Premier League games, the longest current run in the competition (drew five, lost four).
  • No side have kept more Premier League clean sheets this season than Manchester City (eight), who also having the fewest goals conceded (13).
  • City have won all seven of their Premier League meetings with Brighton, by an aggregate score of 21-2.
  • City have missed seven penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season, more than any other side. Three of these have been missed by Raheem Sterling.
  • Phil Foden scored his eighth goal of the season in all competitions, more than any other Manchester City player.
  • City's Kevin de Bruyne provided his 14th assist of the season in all competitions - no Premier League player has more.

'Back to our best' - what they said

Foden is so clever in front of goal - Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola told BBC Sport: "We knew how tough it would be. Brighton had a good mentality to play.

"We had a really good first half and had chances. After we missed a really clear chance in the second half, they were better.

"We need to win these sort of games. It is a good lesson for us. Every game will be like this.

"Phil Foden is 20 years old. Look at the stats, the amount of games, the assists compared to the bigger stars in football. He can play both sides, in the middle as a false nine. He is so clever in front of goal. That is why he deserves to play."

Manchester City match-winner Phil Foden said: "It definitely feels like we're back to our best. We've taken confidence from the last few results.

"We could have done better but overall I'm very proud of the team. It's a great result.

"Brighton defended really well and had a good gameplan. To get the goal before half-time was really important. It ended up as the winning goal so I'm delighted."

Brighton pushed a very good team all the way - Potter

Brighton boss Graham Potter told BBC Sport: "We are disappointed to come away with nothing. We met a top team. I'm so proud of the players. You have to suffer here, that's how it is. We tried to attack.

"You're always on the stretch because they have fantastic players. They're so good, they drive you back. Our intention was to be on the front foot and play and attack when we could.

"The boys defended well when they had to and left everything on the pitch which is all you can ask."

On Percy Tau, Potter added: "I think you got glimpses. It's a tough game for a forward because you have to expend a lot of energy defending which takes away from the quality he has. He's got plenty of time and we need to help him."

What's next?

Brighton will be searching for only their third league win of the season when they play at Leeds on Saturday, 16 January (15:00 GMT).

This was the second of four home matches in a row for Manchester City and they host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday (19:15 GMT).

Player of the match

De BruyneKevin De Bruyne

with an average of 7.37

Manchester City

  1. Squad number17Player nameDe Bruyne
    Average rating

    7.37

  2. Squad number47Player nameFoden
    Average rating

    7.21

  3. Squad number3Player nameR¨²ben Dias
    Average rating

    7.08

  4. Squad number5Player nameStones
    Average rating

    6.80

  5. Squad number20Player nameBernardo Silva
    Average rating

    6.49

  6. Squad number8Player nameG¨¹ndogan
    Average rating

    6.40

  7. Squad number27Player nameJo?o Cancelo
    Average rating

    6.35

  8. Squad number31Player nameEderson
    Average rating

    6.29

  9. Squad number16Player nameRodri
    Average rating

    6.17

  10. Squad number11Player nameZinchenko
    Average rating

    5.87

  11. Squad number26Player nameMahrez
    Average rating

    5.60

  12. Squad number9Player nameGabriel Jesus
    Average rating

    4.69

  13. Squad number7Player nameSterling
    Average rating

    3.93

Brighton & Hove Albion

  1. Squad number22Player nameTau
    Average rating

    6.80

  2. Squad number26Player nameS¨¢nchez
    Average rating

    6.50

  3. Squad number10Player nameMac Allister
    Average rating

    6.36

  4. Squad number11Player nameTrossard
    Average rating

    6.31

  5. Squad number4Player nameWebster
    Average rating

    6.30

  6. Squad number3Player nameWhite
    Average rating

    6.18

  7. Squad number30Player nameBernardo
    Average rating

    6.14

  8. Squad number5Player nameDunk
    Average rating

    6.07

  9. Squad number9Player nameMaupay
    Average rating

    6.02

  10. Squad number33Player nameBurn
    Average rating

    5.93

  11. Squad number34Player nameVeltman
    Average rating

    5.90

  12. Squad number67Player nameKhadra
    Average rating

    5.86

  13. Squad number24Player namePr?pper
    Average rating

    5.82

  14. Squad number20Player nameMarch
    Average rating

    5.57

Line-ups

Man City

Formation 4-3-3

  • 31Ederson
  • 27Cancelo
  • 5Stones
  • 3R¨²ben Dias
  • 11Zinchenko
  • 17De Bruyne
  • 16Rodri
  • 8G¨¹ndogan
  • 26MahrezSubstituted forGabriel Jesusat 67'minutes
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 47FodenSubstituted forSterlingat 82'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Walker
  • 7Sterling
  • 9Gabriel Jesus
  • 13Steffen
  • 21Torres
  • 22Mendy
  • 25Fernandinho
  • 78Harwood-Bellis
  • 79Mbete

Brighton

Formation 4-1-2-1-2

  • 26S¨¢nchez
  • 34VeltmanBooked at 62mins
  • 4WebsterBooked at 77mins
  • 5Dunk
  • 33Burn
  • 3White
  • 24Pr?pperSubstituted forMarchat 68'minutes
  • 30Bernardo
  • 10Mac Allister
  • 11TrossardSubstituted forKhadraat 86'minutes
  • 22TauSubstituted forMaupayat 68'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Maupay
  • 13Gro?
  • 20March
  • 29Zeqiri
  • 31Walton
  • 41Sanders
  • 47Jenks
  • 54Weir
  • 67Khadra
Referee:
Darren England

Match Stats

Home TeamMan CityAway TeamBrighton
Possession
Home65%
Away35%
Shots
Home16
Away5
Shots on Target
Home6
Away1
Corners
Home8
Away4
Fouls
Home4
Away12

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Manchester City 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Manchester City 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

  4. Post update

    Solly March (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Post update

    Penalty missed! Bad penalty by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot is just a bit too high. Raheem Sterling should be disappointed.

  6. Post update

    Penalty Manchester City. Kevin De Bruyne draws a foul in the penalty area.

  7. Post update

    Penalty conceded by Robert S¨¢nchez (Brighton and Hove Albion) after a foul in the penalty area.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by John Stones.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Bernardo Silva.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Reda Khadra replaces Leandro Trossard.

  11. Post update

    Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Jo?l Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion).

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Manchester City. Raheem Sterling replaces Phil Foden.

  15. Post update

    Ilkay G¨¹ndogan (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Solly March (Brighton and Hove Albion).

  17. Post update

    Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Jo?l Veltman tries a through ball, but Dan Burn is caught offside.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Neal Maupay (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Leandro Trossard.

  19. Booking

    Adam Webster (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  20. Post update

    Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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Wednesday 13th January 2021<