Goals either side of half-time from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Brighton & Hove Albion at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Chris Hughton’s team were made to pay for giving away possession in the opening half, before Aguero doubled City’s lead after the break.
The hosts intercepted a loose pass from Anthony Knockaert on the half-hour mark, and a matter of seconds later the ball was in the back of Albion’s net. Pep Guardiola’s team showed tremendous pace to make the Seagulls pay for giving away possession on the halfway line, as Leroy Sane broke down the left wing and crossed for Sterling at the back post. The England international had a simple finish from close range to put the home side 1-0 ahead.
Albion created a fine chance in first-half stoppage time when Solly March’s low cross into the penalty area was fired towards goal by Anthony Knockaert. The Frenchman connected sweetly with the ball, but City managed to keep hold of their slender lead, as the winger’s shot was blocked in front of goal. It was Albion’s best opportunity of the half and would have set up a different contest had Knockaert’s strike found the back of the net.
Lewis Dunk slung himself in front of a powerful shot just before the hour mark to keep City’s lead at 1-0. The ball continued to ping around Albion’s penalty area and Maty Ryan was then called upon, as he made a terrific reaction save to deny David Silva’s ferocious effort. The sequence summed up Albion’s determination to protect their goal, as they came face-to-face with arguably the Premier League’s most-feared opposition.
City found their second goal in the 65th minute and it was some brilliant play from Aguero which broke down Albion’s defensive lines, as the Argentine glided past challenges before picking out Sterling. The City winger returned the favour and found his team-mate inside the penalty area, and Aguero applied a clinical finish from close range to extend the home side’s lead to 2-0, and effectively put the game out of sight.
The Seagulls had claims for a penalty turned down in the closing stages of the game, when the ball seemed to hit Fernandinho on the arm inside the 18-yard box. Albion were convinced referee Lee Mason would point to the spot, but the decision went against Hughton’s side and the hosts saw out the remainder of the match to seal all three points. It could have provided Albion with a glimmer of hope in the final minutes, and Hughton confirmed after the match that he believed it was a “definite penalty”.