Phil Foden sent Manchester City back to third in the Premier League on Wednesday as Pep Guardiola’s men took on a brave challenge from Brighton to win 1-0. Much of the recent talk has been about a potential duel between managers Manchester United and champions Liverpool, but Pep Guardiola’s men are now part of the mix. The 2018 and 2019 champions started the season slowly but have hit the accelerator in recent weeks and are now just one point behind Liverpool with a game in hand. City played without a recognized striker against Graham Potter’s Brighton, but although he wasn’t at his best in soggy Manchester, Foden’s first-half goal proved sufficient.
“We knew how difficult it would be,” Guardiola told the TBEN. “Brighton had a good mentality to play.
“We had a very good first half and had chances. After missing a really good chance in the second half, they were better.
“We have to win these kinds of games. It’s a good lesson for us. Every game will be like that.”
The home side had a golden chance to take the lead quickly when the impressive Kevin De Bruyne was put through by Ilkay Gundogan, but goalkeeper Robert Sanchez blocked the Belgian’s right-footed shot.
Brighton’s Leandro Trossard had the chance to test Ederson’s comeback in City’s goal but he folded his shot wide.
As City found their rhythm, Brighton defender Joel Veltman responded well to clear and De Bruyne had another chance five minutes into the half after a quick break but his powerful shot was saved well.
The pressure from City was finally expressed in the 44th minute. Foden received the ball from De Bruyne to the left of the attack.
The 20-year-old passed two Brighton defenders and stroked the ball inside the nearest post from the edge of the box with his right foot.
It was the England international’s eighth goal of the season – he is City’s top scorer in all competitions.
Riyad Mahrez could have doubled City’s lead shortly before the hour mark, but sent his left-footed shot wide after being put onside.
Moments later, City closed in again. Gundogan forced a good save from Sanchez and the rebound fell to Bernardo Silva, who turned and hit a shot against the woodwork.
Brighton’s goal was to lead a charmed life and Sanchez turned down Joao Cancelo and De Bruyne as the home side continued to probe.
– Narrow feed –
But City lacked control in the first half and never looked quite comfortable with such a narrow lead.
Brighton designed some promising situations but failed to properly test Ederson – they only had one shot on target the entire match.
De Bruyne won a late penalty after Sanchez knocked him down, but substitute Raheem Sterling threw his kick over the bar.
City are now undefeated in their last 14 games in all competitions and have won seven in a row.
Guardiola’s side have largely brushed aside the absences of a number of players due to various coronavirus concerns.
Sergio Aguero has missed again as he continues his period of isolation after being identified as close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
But Ederson was back in goal after a sideline spell after testing positive and Gabriel Jesus, who also contracted the virus, appeared as a second-half substitute.
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