Report: Brave Albion beaten at the Etihad

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Albion left the Etihad Stadium with no points but plenty of plaudits after a 4-0 defeat to Manchester City, in what was a gutsy display against the reigning Premier League champions.

By James Hilsum • 31 August 2019

By Paul Hazlewood
Martin Montoya
  • Albion are beaten 4-0 by Manchester City
  • Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero (2) and Bernardo Silva on target
  • Aaron Connolly comes on to make his Premier League debut
  • The Seagulls welcome Burnley to the Amex after the international break

Sergio Aguero’s brace and a goal each from Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva delivered the routine City win which many people would’ve expected, but Graham Potter will be encouraged by his team’s bravery in the north west.

The Albion head coach praised City’s undoubted quality in the build up to the match, and the boss saw Pep Guardiola’s side give the Seagulls a harsh lesson after going toe-to-toe with one of Europe’s top teams.

Potter made two changes to the line-up that lost 2-0 to Southampton last Saturday, with Bernardo replacing the banned Florin Andone and Adam Webster coming in for his Premier League debut in place of Shane Duffy.

The Seagulls boss made a tactical tweak to what was still a 3-4-3 formation, as Solly March was deployed higher up the pitch in a front three that also included Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay.

Bernardo was introduced on the left-hand side of a four-man midfield alongside the existing trio of Martin Montoya, Dale Stephens and Davy Propper.

By Bennett Dean
Solly March.

Optimism was high within the Albion camp ahead of the game, but Potter’s men got off to the worst-possible start when De Bruyne tapped the ball home from David Silva’s cross after just 71 seconds.

While it would have been easy for heads to drop under the circumstances, Albion remained committed to playing their brand of free-flowing attacking football with Bernardo and Dan Burn giving City cause for concern on the left-hand side.

The hosts’ array of attacking talent was clear to see, as Maty Ryan kept out Riyad Mahrez’s strike from distance before Raheem Sterling flashed a ball across the face of goal that narrowly missed Silva.

The action on the pitch paled into insignificance when Aymeric Laporte was stretchered off the pitch after taking down Webster in full flight following the centre-half’s run from defence.

For all of Albion’s positive and brave play on the ball, City showed their ruthless efficiency in front of goal when De Bruyne turned from goalscorer to provider for Aguero, who took two touches inside the box and fired in past Ryan to make it 2-0 with 42 minutes played.

By Paul Hazlewood
Davy Propper

In a game of fine margins, the lively Trossard could have given Albion a foothold in the game after being picked out by Bernardo, but the Belgian was denied by Ederson.

The game was effectively killed off as a contest ten minutes after the re-start when Aguero finished a slick City move involving Oleksandr Zinchenko and Silva — the Argentinian curled an effort into the top corner from the edge of the box.

The result may have made it a day to forget from an Albion perspective, but not for Aaron Connolly, who replaced Maupay in the 66th minute to make his Premier League debut just four days after scoring his first senior goal in the Carabao Cup victory over Bristol Rovers.

By Paul Hazlewood
Leandro Trossard

The young Irishman could have made it two in two games after linking up with Pascal Gross 30 yards out from goal, but the German’s return pass was agonisingly too short to play the 19-year-old through on Ederson’s goal.

But in another cruel blow, Bernardo Silva added a fourth within seconds of replacing namesake David Silva, as the Portuguese latched onto Aguero’s through-ball and fired past Ryan to make the final score 4-0.

Albion next host Burnley in two weeks’ time after the upcoming international break, following what many would say is the toughest test Potter’s men will face all season.

ALBION: Ryan; Dunk, Webster, Burn; Montoya, Stephens, Propper, Bernardo (Murray 66); March, Trossard (Gross 74), Maupay (Connolly 66).

SUBS NOT USED: Button (GK), Duffy, Jahanbakhsh, Mooy.