- Albion well beaten by Manchester City at the Amex
- Last season’s Premier League champions ease to a 5-0 win
- Raheem Sterling scores a hat-trick including his 27th goal of the season
- Seagulls must regroup ahead of a trip to Southampton on Thursday evening
Albion endured a Saturday night to forget against a stylish Manchester City.
The Amex is a venue which will always evoke happy memories for City after they clinched the Premier League title on the final day of last season.
That prize has eluded Pep Guardiola’s side this time, but they have been in outstanding form since lockdown and took full advantage of an unusually flat display by Albion to score through Raheem Sterling, who grabbed a hat-trick, Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva.
Graham Potter will certainly be pleased that Albion's difficult sequence of games against the three best teams in the country at the moment is behind them with a trip to Southampton next up on Thursday.
The head coach had made five changes to the team which had lost 3-1 to Liverpool. Martin Montoya, Bernardo, Yves Bissouma, Aaron Mooy and Aaron Connolly all came in. It was Bernardo’s first start since the 3-3 draw at West Ham United on February 1.
City were quickly into their stride and carried a threat first through Gabriel Jesus’s stooping header and then a shot which Lewis Dunk blocked for a corner, but Albion were by no means camped in during the opening exchanges as they tried to stretch an entirely new City back four to that which also stuck five goals past Newcastle on Wednesday.
Martin Montoya won a couple of early corners which came to nothing before Benjamin Mendy came onto a loose ball on the edge of the box at the other end to strike a side-footer which was deflected for a corner.
After conceding early goals against Manchester United and Liverpool Potter would have been relatively happy with the first 20 minutes. Albion seemed to be coping well until Sterling scored a superb 25th goal of the season on 22 minutes to break the deadlock.
Riyad Mahrez and Jesus combined to set up Sterling who cut inside onto his right foot and bent a powerful shot past Ryan into the bottom right-hand corner.
At that stage City had enjoyed 74% possession but when Albion countered at pace just after the drinks break Leandro Trossard cut in from the left and struck a shot on the angle which didn’t miss the far post by much.
Albion then had two escapes in the space of 90 seconds. Kevin De Bruyne robbed Davy Propper to find Jesus whose shot hit the crossbar and when Albion lost the ball again in midfield Jesus teed up Mahrez on the overlap and Lewis Dunk made a crucial block to divert the ball the other side of the far post.
Trossard has been one of Albion’s standout players since the resumption and he was involved in Albion’s best move of the first half. Picked out by Pascal Gross’s pass he sent a header just wide of the right-hand post.
City doubled their lead just before the break when, unusually for them, Albion conceded from a set-piece. Rodri rose highest to meet De Bruyne’s outswing corner from the right and the defender’s header was turned in at the far post by Jesus, leaving the hosts with an uphill battle in the second half.
There was no let-up from City in the second half. On 50 minutes De Bruyne’s right-foot free kick from the left-hand side crashed against the outside of the post but three minutes later it was 0-3. Mahrez had plenty of space on the right to pick out Sterling inside the six-yard box with his left foot and the England international headed past Ryan on the stretch. Game over.
And it was to get worse. Ryan failed to hold onto Bernardo Silva’s low shot and Silva reacted quickest to stroke the loose ball into the net with 57 minutes played.
Potter made a triple change, bringing on Tariq Lamptey, Dale Stephens and Neal Maupay before Alireza Jahanbakhsh made his first appearance since lockdown ended when he came on for Trossard. City also utilised their bench by making five changes but continued to hunt for more goals.
Albion had a let off in the 78th minute when Mahrez skipped past Ryan but could only find the side netting but nine minutes from time Sterling intercepted Webster’s header back to Ryan and as the keeper came out he poked it into an empty net.
A tough night but even Albion fans will have admired City’s ruthless display.
Albion: Ryan, Montoya (Lamptey 60), Dunk, Webster, Bernardo, Propper (Stephens 60), Gross (Burn 78), Mooy, Bissouma, Trossard (Jahanbakhsh 70), Connolly (Maupay 60).
Subs not used: Button, Duffy, Mac Allister, Murray.
Referee: Graham Scott.