MAN CITY 4, BRIGHTON 0
It was a routine day at the office for Manchester City as they overpowered brave Brighton to temporarily regain top spot in the Premier League.
Two goals for Sergio Aguero – that’s an incredible 237 in 342 appearances – and one apiece for Kevin De Bruyne and substitute Bernardo Silva made it 10 points from a possible 12 at the start of their league campaign.
Since last December’s home defeat by Crystal Palace, City have collected 52 points from a possible 54 at their Etihad fortress.
City were never troubled, though Brighton had a creditable 46 per cent possession, and with more clinical finishing could have won by twice the margin.
The only dampener was a serious knee injury sustained by centre-back Aymeric Laporte with manager Pep Guardiola admitting it does not look good and he will probably be out for some time.
With Vincent Kompany leaving and John Stones injured, Guardiola was forced to play midfielder Fernandinho at centre back as he has previously done on a couple of occasions.Embed from Getty Images
“He is intelligent, fast, strong, a strong header and he can play in both positions,” he said of the Brazilian.
Guardiola admitted it was a tougher game than the 4-0 scoreline suggested as he praised Brighton’s adventurous approach.
He said: “Brighton created more chances than those teams that have come here, defended and still lost 4-0.
“As a Brighton spectator they came to play and had two or three clear chances. If they had scored when it was 2-0 it might have been a different game.”
Guardiola added he was lucky to have “incredible players up front who make a difference”.
City’s manager also praised Aguero saying he knew from day one he was a special talent.
“We need his goals and he helps up a lot with his goals. And when he does not score, you cannot fault his commitment. He is the sort of player who will die scoring goals,” he joked.
City, whose players and Guardiola wore black arm bands in memory of the nine-year-old daughter of former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, who died of cancer, made two changes from the side that won 3-1 at Bournemouth as they faced another South Coast side.
There were recalls for Riyad Mahrez and Rodrigo as Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan lost out.
Brighton handed a debut to new £20 million centre back Adam Webster, a summer signing from Bristol City.
City took only 69 seconds to take the lead when De Bruyne made the breakthrough.
Oleksandr Zinchenko and David Silva linked on the left and the latter’s cut back was converted by De Bruyne who was free eight yards out.
It set a new club record of scoring in 26 consecutive league matches.
De Bruyne saw a drive flash just wide of the upright and David Silva shot off target from inside the six-yard box as City continued to dominate as Brighton found it hard to combat their high press.
Laporte left the field on a stretcher after injuring his right knee. He came off worst after a hefty challenge on Webster for which he was booked to add insult to injury.
Laporte was replaced by midfielder Fernandinho who slotted into the centre of defence.
De Bruyne provided the assist for City’s second goal in the 42nd minute with a cross from the right which Aguero, who cut inside, fired high into the roof of the net from 10 yards.
Brighton’s best first-half chance came following a 4 v 3 break which ended with Leandro Trossard’s shot well blocked by Ederson.
Trossard has a great chance to half the deficit early in the second half, but his goalbound shot was headed cleared by Fernandinho.
Aguero showed how it ought to be done as he scored his second and City’s third goal in the 55th minute and his sixth in the first four league games.
Zinchenko and David Silva linked and Aguero curled a delightful effort into the top corner from 18 yards, his seven goal from his last seven on-target shots.
City had further chance to extend their lead as Raheem Sterling deflected Aguero’s shot narrowly wide and De Bruyne volleyed over.
Guardiola made a second change with 20 minutes left when De Bruyne was replaced by Gundogan.
And the third and final change in the 78th minute paid immediate dividends when Bernardo Silva, who replaced namesake David, scored with his first touch having been on the field for only 17 seconds.
Aguero provided the assist with a delightful reverse pass and Bernardo Silva slotted the ball low to the left of goalkeeper Matt Ryan.