Manchester City survived a second half scare to beat Brighton 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium. A first half brace by Erling Haaland was added to in the second half by a stunning strike from Kevin de Bruyne, while a Leandro Trossard goal threatened to give Brighton a share of the spoils.
After going two matches without a win or even a goal, the blues needed to beat Brighton to keep pace with leaders Arsenal at the top of the league. The Seagulls have enjoyed an impressive start to the season, winning at United on the opening day and forcing a 3-3 draw at Anfield after leading the Mersey reds 2-0.
With their midweek clash with Arsenal postponed, City had some extra time to prepare for the visit of Brighton and, as it turned out, they needed it to keep a spirited performance from the visitors at bay.
Although City dominated possession, there were some moments where the faithful must have felt that it was going to be one of those days. Ederson, usually so reliable at the back, inexplicably gave the ball away in the City half, then had to quickly backtrack to prevent Danny Welbeck from lobbing him from distance.
The Brazilian keeper was fortunate the former United man was so surprised to have received the ball, that he rushed his shot which went harmlessly over the bar.
But the keeper made up for the error to claim his first assist of the season. Ederson spotted the run of Haaland and played an inch-perfect pass to the Norwegian. His first touch took him round the keeper, who had rushed out to try and beat Haaland to the ball, then had the strength and power to shrug off Adam Webster and slot the ball into an empty goal.
It was a goal that Ederson had created before, when he released Sergio Aguero to score against Huddersfield Town in 2018. For Haaland, it was Premier League goal number 16 of an already impressive season. And to think that he’ll shortly be having a month off as the World Cup takes place will send further shivers down the spines of Premier League defenders.
On this form, he is likely to breach the 20-goal mark before the start of that tournament and he took another step towards it two minutes before half-time when he converted his second penalty of the season. Bernardo Silva’s run into the box was ended by the outstretched leg of Lewis Dunk and, after a VAR check, the referee pointed to the spot.
Haaland replaced Riyad Mahrez as penalty taker after the Algerian missed in Copenhagen, and the Norwegian made no mistake. Haaland hit the ball with so much power that the keep barely had time to register the shot before he was picking the ball form the back of the net.
The blues were in full control going into the break, but it would be a different story in the second half, when Brighton threatened to take an unlikely point back the Amex.
Within eight minutes of the restart, Brighton had pulled a goal back, but it was Mahrez who rued the goal more than anyone. Only moment earlier, the Algerian had a glorious chance to make it 3-0 after being set up by de Bruyne, With only the keeper to beat, Mahrez saw his shot bounce off the leg of Sanchez in the Brighton goal and the Seagulls survived. Play moved quickly to the other end of the pitch and Trossard found some space before beating Ederson at his near post with a precise strike.
That should have been the signal for City to ramp up the pressure, but it only inspired Brighton to try and force an equaliser. And it nearly came through the goalscorer. Trossard only had one thing on his mind as his pace took him beyond the City defence and into the penalty area. But, instead of trying to find a better-placed teammate, Trossard went for glory, but saw his powerful shot saved by Ederson.
The striker probably still had his Anfield hat-trick in mind which may have influenced his decision to shoot, but that ultimately cost his team the opportunity to steal a point.
Instead, the blues wrapped up the game when Kein de Bruyne found the back of the goal with 15 minutes remaining. Brighton allowed de Bruyne, who came in third place for the Ballon d’Or, far too much space outside the penalty area, and the Belgian fired his shot out of reach of the keeper and into the back of the goal.
That ended any hopes of a Brighton comeback and moved the blues to within a point of leaders Arsenal, with the Gunners playing at Southampton today.
Final score: Manchester City 3-1 Brighton and Hove Albion