MAN CITY 3, BRIGHTON 0
Pep Guardiola reached the landmark of 250 wins for Manchester City who regained top spot in the Premier League following their home win against Brighton.
It was secured in the City manager’s 344th game thanks to second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva.
After losing the lead to Liverpool last night, this was the perfect riposte from City who were assisted by some charitable play as all three goals could be attributed to errors from the visitors.
It was a curious game, one of contrasting fortunes for City in each half.
They were slow and laboured in the opening period, a seeming hangover from Saturday’s defeat to Liverpool in the semi finals of the Emirates FA Cup.
Once they made the breakthrough soon after the restart and, inspired by the mercurial man-of-the-match Kevin De Bruyne, they regained the usual swagger to ultimately triumph with comfort.
Guardiola reiterated that he believes City will have to win all their remaining games to be champions.Embed from Getty Images
He said: “Three seasons ago we won 14 games in a row to be champions and have been in this position before.
“If we win all our games, we will be champions. If not, they will as you feel they are going to win all their games.
“Liverpool are one of the best teams ever. And it means a lot to be with them.”
Guardiola added what pleased him most was the win guaranteed a top-four finish.
He continued: “I am happy we are mathematically in the Champions League which is our aim as there are so many good teams.
“If you ask all the Premier League CEOs, chairman and owners, that is what they want. We have done it once again and done it well.”
And on the game, Guardiola said: “It was a good test and we behaved exceptional. That is why we won the game.
“We didn’t let them play. Brighton have this quality. In the second half we found the goals that we could not find in the first half.”
Brighton manager Graham Potter had no complaints, explaining: “If you come here and want to get something, you need to be perfect with the ball, and we weren’t, though the application and attitude were.
“They are a fantastic team, we know that. They played well and deserved to win.
“We are disappointed with ourselves on the ball as we missed too many easy passes.
“They were fortunate for two of their goals, but we have no complaints with the scoreline.
“There is no shame losing to Manchester City who were better than is. We have to recover from it and move forward.”
City made six changes to the side that lost the FA Cup semi-final 3-2 to Liverpool.
Ederson was back in goal, De Bruyne returned in midfield, along with Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan. Mahrez started in attack, with Aymeric Laporte at the back.
Fernandinho, Gabriel Jesus, Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling and Oleksandr Zinchenko dropped to the bench. The fit-again Ruben Diaz was again named among the substitutes.
Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma began a two-game ban after accumulating 10 yellow cards and so Solly March came into the side.
That was one of two changes from the 1-0 win at Tottenham. The other was a notable one, with Leandro Trossard, the Seagulls’ goalscorer in the win at Spurs, absent from the matchday squad and replaced in the starting line up by Danny Welbeck.
The game was off to a slow burner before City carved out their first chance of note in the 17th minute.
Seagulls’ goalkeeper Robert Sanchez’ cheeky clearance was intercepted by Mahrez on the edge of the box, but Moises Caicedo’s last-ditch tackle saved the shot stopper’s blushes.
City were struggling to find any fluency, though De Bruyne broke from his own half, played a return pass with Foden before seeing his drive flash just past the upright.
Guardiola had an enforced change for the restart as Dias, making his first appearance since March 1, replaced the injured Nathan Ake in a rejigged back line as Joao Cancelo switched to left back and John Stones moved from the centre to right back.
City started to crank up the pressure as Canelo and Rodri both had efforts in quick succession deflected just wide.
The breakthrough finally came in the 53rd minute after Brighton carelessly gave away the ball. De Bruyne broke and found Mahrez with a ricochet.
Mahrez was clean through and saw his shot deflect off a defender and loop over Sanchez for his 23rd of the season. It was not a goal for the purist but one of huge importance and significance for City.
And it got better for City when Foden, making his 50th Premier League start for City, doubled their lead mid-half from a corner routine no doubt perfected on the training ground.
Mahrez played a needlessly conceded corner straight to the unmarked Foden who from outside the box saw his low drive take a sizeable deflection past Sanchez for his 12th goal of the season.
City, a weight lifted from their shoulders, were beginning to play with a swagger that was lacking in the opening period.
De Bruyne sent Foden racing clear down the left and he cut in before seeing his shot blocked by Sanchez.
City made a second change in the 77th minute as Stones made way for Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Brighton were again their own worst enemies as City scored a third goal with nine minutes left.
A poor clearance from Sanchez was intercepted and the ball played forward to De Bruyne whose lay off was swept home first time by Bernardo from the edge of the box for his 12th goal of the season.