Brighton 0, Manchester City 5
A hat trick by Raheem Sterling and goals by Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva gave Manchester City their first Premier League away win in four games as they confirmed a second place league finish with a win over Brighton.Embed from Getty Images
It could have been more for City as Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne hit the woodwork as City notched up five or more goals in a Premier League game for the 19th time out of 149 under Pep Guardiola.
City notched up 26 attempts on the Brighton goal, the same as in their defeat at Southampton, but came away with a more acceptable result with players coming into form ahead of their FA Cup challenge.
Guardiola made six changes from the side that beat Newcastle Utd in midweek. There were six changes, including new back 4 – the same which played against Liverpool – Kyle Walker, Eric Garcia, Aymeric Laporte, and Benjamin Mendy came in for Joao Cancelo, John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, and Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Bernardo Silva and Sterling came in for David Silva and Phil Foden to complete the changes.
There was a minute’s silence before kick off as both teams paid their respects to Jack Charlton after news emerged today that the 85-year-old former World Cup winner had passed away.
And there were quick chances for Gabriel Jesus, Benjamin Mendy, and Garcia as City tried to carve up an early opening against the Seagulls.
But it was Sterling who prised open the Brighton defence in the 21st minute as he steered a 20 yard shot past Matty Ryan after a Gabriel Jesus flicked on a long cross from the left by Riyad Mahrez for his 25th goal of the season.
It was only the fourth goal that City had scored in their last 6 Premier League away games but also the 15th Premier League goal from outside the box this term – three more than any other side.
And City didn’t take their foot off the gas, with Mendy, Jesus, and Garcia going close while De Bruyne won the ball and fed Jesus for a rising shot which came off the cross bar.
Mahrez inexplicably shot wide when Jesus skipped past three defenders before laying off the ball for the Algerian.
Brighton only had two efforts – both by in-form Leandro Trossard – a shot wide of the back post and a glancing header which went over as the Seagulls struggled against a City side who robbed them of the ball several times in a difficult first half.
City finally doubled their lead just before half time when Kevin De Bruyne’s corner was flicked on by Rodri and poached by Jesus a yard from the line for his 20th goal of the season after he reacted first to the incoming ball.
Manchester City’s luck in front of goal starting to change?
Kevin De Bruyne won a free kick off Yves Bissouma soon after the break – his free kick went onto the post while Sterling’s reaction shot from the rebound went straight to Ryan.
Sterling soon had his second goal after Mahrez’ inch perfect cross was nodded home by the flying winger who went past a static Seagulls defence to score from 5 yards out for his 26th goal of the season in the 53rd minute – a personal record for the England man.
And Bernardo Silva scored his first goal since January when Ryan couldn’t hold onto his low drive, with Jesus reacting first and slipping the ball back to the Portuguese who made no mistake the second time after 57 minutes for only his 8th goal of the season.
Guardiola made a triple change soon after City’s fourth goal with Phil Foden, David Silva, and Oleksandr Zinchenko coming on for Jesus, De Bruyne, and Mendy.
And with the game won, John Stones and Fernandinho were given run-outs with Garcia and Rodri withdrawn.
Sterling blazed over a chance at his hat trick while Mahrez rippled the side netting after a superb ball over the top by David Silva as City comfortably saw out the win.
The winger finally netted his hat trick in unusual circumstances, falling to the ground as Adam Webster tried to head away Sterling’s attempt to chip David Silva’s long pass only to see his looping clearance come back down and go past Ryan off Sterling’s head as he lay on the ground.
It was a bizarre way to complete his second hat trick of the season but also put Sterling above Sergio Aguero in City’s top Premier League scorers this season (on 18) – 5 behind Jamie Vardy in the race for the Golden Boot.
It also left Sterling on 27 goals for the season – his best ever return – with the winger hinting at more goals in the three remaining games with the winger suggesting that luck was starting to change for City.
Ryan was almost punished for a poor clearance which went to Sterling who threaded the ball to Mahrez, with the Algerian blazing wide with the game long over as a contest.
GOALS – Brighton 0, Manchester City 5
Brighton 0, Man City 1: 21. Raheem Sterling steered a 20 yard shot past Matty Ryan after a Gabriel Jesus flicked on a long cross from the left by Riyad Mahrez.
Brighton 0, Man City 2: 44. Gabriel Jesus poked the ball home following in Rodri’s goalbound header from a yard out after Rodri had met Kevin De Bruyne’s corner.
Brighton 0, Man City 3: 53. Raheem Sterling’s close range header from Riyad Mahrez’ cross beat Matty Ryan.
Brighton 0, Man City 4: 57. Bernardo Silva gobbled up a lay off by Gabriel Jesus to bury the ball after Ryan failed to hold on to his original shot.
Brighton 0, Man City 5: 81. Raheem Sterling gets his hat trick while laying on the ground – Dan Burn’s attempt to clear Sterling’s attempt to chip up David Silva’s long pass into the box – only to see it looped up and down onto Sterling’s head and past Matty Ryan after the winger had gone to ground.
MATCH STATS – Brighton 0, Manchester City 5
Brighton: Ryan, Montoya (Lamptey 59), Webster, Dunk, Bernardo, Bissouma, Propper (Stephens 59), Gross (Burn 78), Mooy, Trossard (Jahanbakhsh 70), Connolly (Maupay 59)
Brighton Subs: Button, Duffy, MacAllister, Murray, Burn
Booked: Bissouma 83 (foul)
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Garcia (Stones 72), Laporte, Mendy (Zinchenko 63), De Bruyne (David Silva 63), Rodri (Fernandinho 72), Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Sterling, Jesus (Foden 63)
Man City Subs: Carson, Otamendi, Doyle, Palmer
Goals: Sterling 25, 53, 81; Jesus 44; Bernardo Silva 57
Referee: Graham Scott