Goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero sent Manchester City top of the Premier League with victory over Brighton.
City had to wait until nearest rivals Liverpool had drawn with third-placed Chelsea in Saturday’s late game to discover whether their stay at the summit would be a brief one, but Pep Guardiola’s side ended the day top on goal difference.
The outcome of this match was never in doubt once Sterling broke the deadlock after 29 minutes, sliding home Leroy Sane’s cross after a swift counter-attack opened up the Seagulls defence for the first time.
The defending champions continued to dominate and Aguero made sure of the points on 65 minutes, firing home from a Sterling pass to finish a move he started.
City had 28 attempts at goal, while the visitors had just four.
And while Seagulls keeper Mat Ryan was kept busy throughout, the only action Ederson saw in the City goal was to comfortably collect an early looping header by Shane Duffy.
City maintain impressive home form
This was exactly the kind of emphatic win Guardiola will have wanted before his side attempt to get their Champions League campaign back on track against Hoffenheim this week.
City, surprisingly beaten at home by French side Lyon in their last home game, never looked like suffering a similar upset against the Seagulls.
Their Premier League record at the Etihad since the start of last season includes 20 wins from 23 games, and this was among the most convincing.
True, it took them time to find a way to break down a well-drilled Brighton side, but they had so much of the ball they always appeared in control.
City enjoyed 80% of possession and played 851 passes, compared to 210 by a Brighton side who sat deep and offered next to no threat on the counter-attack.
Brighton wait for an away win continues
Brighton, who have not won on the road in the top flight since November 2017, are getting used to returning to the south coast empty-handed.
This was their 17th successive away league game without a win, and the 12th in that period in which they have failed to score.
There were few moments in this game when they looked like improving that record, and not many statistics offer them any encouragement to take away from Etihad Stadium.
The Seagulls had a late penalty appeal turned down when the ball appeared to hit Fernandinho’s arm in the box, but otherwise their attacking threat amounted to three corners and six touches inside the City area. At the other end, the home side managed 61.
Chris Hughton’s side as good as matched City in terms of work-rate, collectively covering only 1km less, but that was the only area on the pitch where there was not a noticeable gulf.
Their only positives came at the back – through the organisation of their defence and also a collection of fine saves by Ryan that helped keep the scoreline respectable.
Man of the match – Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
‘We are so fast on the counter-attack’ – what they said
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, asked to describe his side’s performance: “Outstanding. Our positional game was fantastic and we didn’t concede much in shots, and we did it so good.
“Brighton defended so well and I give a lot of credit to the way we attacked today. We are so fast on the counter-attack and it was quite similar last season.”
Brighton manager Chris Hughton: “The second goal was frustrating. They counter-attack very fast and very well. It’s a typical Manchester City goal – at 1-0 we were always in the game but the second goal killed us.
“You don’t want to get beaten but it’s how you get beaten and these are the type of places where you can get beaten big. We had a goalkeeper who had to make big saves and defenders who had to block shots, so we did well to survive here.
On his side’s penalty appeal after the ball appeared to hit Fernandinho’s arm: “We had a penalty given against us last game [against Tottenham] for a Glenn Murray handball. I had no problems with that, but here you need as many decisions going for you and I saw the ball hit his hand on the video replay so it’s a definite penalty. That could’ve changed our fortunes.”
Aguero’s hot streak at the Etihad – the stats
- Aguero has scored 15 goals in his past 11 Premier League appearances at the Etihad.
- Sterling has been involved in 35 Premier League goals since the start of last season (22 goals, 13 assists), a figure bettered only by Mohamed Salah (46) and Harry Kane (38).
- Sane has assisted more Premier League goals since the start of last season than any other player (17).
- City have won their opening four home Premier League games of a season for the fourth time (also 2007-08, 2011-12 and 2013-14), going on to win the division on the past two occasions they achieved this feat.
- Brighton have lost all eight of their away Premier League matches against ‘big six’ opposition.
- Since winning back-to-back Premier League away games against West Ham and Swansea last November, Brighton have collected just five points from the 17 that have followed (P17 W0 D5 L12).
What next? City go to Germany
City travel to Germany to play Hoffenheim on Tuesday (17:55 BST), then go to Anfield to face Liverpool in their next Premier League game on Sunday, 7 October (16:30 BST).
Brighton are at home to West Ham on Friday (20:00 BST).