- Albion are beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup semi-finals
- Gabriel Jesus on target for City
- Anthony Knockaert named man of the match in an impressive Albion performance
- The Seagulls turn their attention back to the Premier League with the visit of AFC Bournemouth next Saturday
Brighton & Hove Albion bravely bowed out of the Emirates FA Cup at the semi-final stage after a narrow 1-0 defeat to quadruple-chasing Manchester City at Wembley Stadium.
A header from Gabriel Jesus inside the opening four minutes was enough to confirm City’s place in the final, but Albion exited the competition with plenty of plaudits after a brave performance against Pep Guardiola’s side.
Chris Hughton made four changes to the team that lost 3-0 to Chelsea on Wednesday, after Martin Montoya, Bernardo, Anthony Knockaert and Glenn Murray all returned to the team.
The deadlock was broken after just four minutes courtesy of Jesus, as the Brazilian ghosted in at the far post with a diving header from Kevin De Bruyne’s teasing cross.
City enjoyed a lot of possession in the early stages, but Albion engineered an opening of their own when Alireza Jahanbakhsh saw his cross hacked away before Ederson claimed Bernardo’s ball back into the box.
Knockert worked another opportunity from a corner, but his outswinging set-piece just missed Shane Duffy inside the box.
The Seagulls remained undeterred by the early setback, as Yves Bissouma looked to weave his way inside before Bernardo showed good tenacity to pick up the loose ball and feed Davy Propper, but the Dutchman’s strike drifted wide.
Albion were looking to get joy from set-pieces after Knockaert played a searching left-footed free kick into the path of Shane Duffy, but his header drifted harmlessly wide.
The first contentious flashpoint of the game came just after the half-hour mark when VAR came into play to review an altercation between Jahanbakhsh and Kyle Walker, with the latter appearing to headbutt the Albion man.
Despite Seagulls supporters’ appeals for the England man to receive his marching orders, both Jahanbakhsh and Walker received a yellow card each.
Albion continued their positive play through the tireless Knockaert, who was picked out by Bissouma on the right, and the former found a way past Benjamin Mendy before firing over the bar.
Hughton’s team continued from where they left off at the start of the second half, with some brave free-flowing football and they showed plenty of attacking intent from set-pieces, which gave City’s defence plenty of cause for concern.
Knockaert’s corner picked out Duffy inside the box, and the Irishman’s header was flicked over the bar at the last moment by Aymeric Laporte.
Chances were few and far between for Guardiola’s men, as Maty Ryan comfortably kept out Ilkay Gundogan’s speculative strike from distance.
Despite playing below their exceptionally high standards, City had the chance to add a second goal through Raheem Sterling, who forced Ryan into a fine two-handed save.
Sterling was thwarted by the Albion defence again, this time by Dunk’s super sliding challenge to keep out the England winger’s long-range effort.
Jose Izquierdo was brought on for the final 20 minutes by Hughton, and the Colombian looked to level the scores in emphatic fashion, but his curling effort from distance went straight into Ederson’s grasp.
Knockaert was named man of the match for his tireless display and immediately strode forward on goal and went down under the challenge of Laporte inside the box, but referee Anthony Taylor waved play on.
The Seagulls continued to push for a late equaliser, but it wasn’t to be, and the 33,000-plus Albion fans gave the players a standing ovation which their performance so richly deserved.
ALBION: Ryan; Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo; Stephens, Propper, Bissouma (Locadia 82); Knockaert, Murray (Andone 65), Jahanbakhsh (Izquierdo 70).
SUBS NOT USED: Button (GK), Bruno, Burn, Bong.