Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League with a 3-0 win at home to Brighton thanks to three second-half goals.
Liverpool’s victory over Manchester United on Tuesday had knocked the champions off the top, but Pep Guardiola’s side responded with a victory over the Seagulls to move a point above the Reds with six games to play.
After a frustrating and scoreless first half, City took the lead in the 53rd minute through Riyad Mahrez whose shot was deflected by Joel Veltman and past goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.
- Kevin De Bruyne returned to the starting line-up as one of six changes made by manager Pep Guardiola following Saturday’s loss to Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final.
- Ederson was reinstated in goal while Aymeric Laporte, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez also started. Ruben Dias was only deemed fit enough for the bench while Kyle Walker was again missing through injury.
- Brighton were without Leandro Trossard, scorer of their winner at Tottenham on Saturday, and the suspended Yves Bissouma. Danny Welbeck and Solly March entered.
City’s second also came through a deflection, as Phil Foden’s long shot (65) entered a defender to find the bottom corner.
Bernardo Silva completed a third with eight minutes to go to ensure the title race remains in City’s hands.
City overcame a frustrating first half to win
City started the evening second, two points behind Liverpool and were looking to bounce back from Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final loss to the Reds.
But Guardiola’s side faced a confident Brighton side, having won their last two games at Arsenal and Tottenham, as they frustrated City in the first half.
The visitors, however, nearly gave City the lead as Sanchez’s misplaced pass found Mahrez, but Moises Caicedo’s fine sliding challenge spared the goalkeeper’s blushes.
Such was Brighton’s resistance, City were limited to speculative effort as Kevin De Bruyne fired a shot from 25 yards just past the post while Bernardo Silva dug in a curling effort just inside the box which was rebuffed by Sanchez.
Guardiola made a half-time substitution as Ruben Dias returned after seven weeks out with a hamstring injury, while the Portuguese defender replaced Nathan Ake.
The tension at the Etihad was lifted when De Bruyne’s superb counter-attacking run found Mahrez, who scored in his 250th Premier League appearance thanks to a few lucky deflections.
Just 12 minutes later, Foden doubled their lead for his 12th goal in all competitions.
Then in the 82nd minute, after Brighton made a mess playing from the back, De Bruyne set up City’s third by sending Oleksandr Zinchenko’s pass to Silva, who curled his effort past Sanchez.
City maintain unbeaten record at home to Brighton – Opta stats
- Manchester City have never lost a league game at home to Brighton and Hove Albion in 12 previous encounters (W10 D2), facing the Seagulls more times without losing at home than any other opponent in their league history.
- Since joining the Premier League for the 2017-18 season, Brighton have lost more league games against Manchester City than any other opponent (nine defeats).
- Manchester City have returned to the top of the Premier League, meaning they have now led the table for 137 of the last 138 days since December 4.
- Phil Foden made his 50th Premier League start for Manchester City – aged 21 years and 327 days, he became the youngest to start 50 games for City since Joe Hart in January 2009 (21 years 287 days).
- Riyad Mahrez scored his 23rd goal in all competitions for Manchester City this season – of Premier League club players, only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has more (30) in all competitions in 2021-22.
Man City return home on Saturday when they host Watford at the Etihad; kick off 3 p.m. Brighton will be in Premier League action on Sunday when they take on Southampton; kick off 2 p.m.