A reason to mile as Phil Foden delivers a starman like performance. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
Manchester City secured a routine victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium to keep pressure on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.
City took the lead in controversial fashion in the eyes of the home fans as the returning İlkay Gündoğan opened his account for the season.
Robert Sánchez dropped Phil Foden’s shot after Gabriel Jesus put pressure on and profiting from the mistake was the German international who tapped home from close range.
They later doubled their lead through Phil Foden, who grabbed a brace in a four minute spell.
Pep’s men went on a blistering counter-attack from a Brighton corner and Jack Grealish played it to Foden who touched home.
This was a mesmerising display and three minutes after they had their third in a similar fashion in another scintillating attack. Jack Grealish’s tight-angled shot was saved but on the rebound Foden deflected Jesus’ shot home.
In a quieter second-half, City let Brighton back in for a consolation goal after Ederson conceded a penalty. Substitute Alex MacAllister dispatched from 12-yards to take a slight gloss off what could have been a perfect day.
The visitors would have the last say however as Riyad Mahrez came off the bench in the final action of the game. Mahrez, found by Foden sent his shot past Sanchez in a controlling display.
- İlkay Gündoğan: The German loves scoring down in Sussex! The three times that he has visited the Amex Stadium, he’s found the net.
His goal also ranks him as the second German player in Premier League history to score 30+ goals in the season with Mesut Özil the other.
A centre-midfielder by trade, he’s had a knack for goal scoring this season and statistically, only Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane have scored more league goals in 2021 than the 30-year-old.
- Bernardo Silva: At one point Bernardo Silva looked like he’d fade into the background of City with an exit likely but now he is finding his feet again. In all three goals, Silva played a role in the goals, including an overhead kick assist for the first, as well as two key passes in the next two.
Every time he went forward in the first-half he was carving the Seagulls defence opening with some killer passes.
- Phil Foden: The performance in the first-half was beyond his years. He showed great maturity and got himself into the right areas for his two goals.
With Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez benched and Raheem Sterling missing through injury, Pep Roulette this time paid off as Foden delivered.
His impact in the first period gave both De Bruyne and Mahrez more of a break and will keep them in good condition for Tuesday.
A shame he couldn’t get a hat-trick but a sublime assist for Riyad Mahrez secured the man-of-the-match award.
- Robert Sánchez: Not the greatest performance from the recent Spain number-one. Brighton were hopeful of VAR going in their favour for the first goal but there was nothing wrong about it. There is not much that he could have done about the second but with the third, he is better positioned than Grealish to do better.
- Brighton fans: There was needless booing from the home fans for Jack Grealish, who no doubt will be cheered by the same fans when he’s on international duty next month.
Booing opposition players is part of trying to turn the game in your favour but no other City player. Luckily he came off the pitch to a chant of ‘Super Jacky Grealish’ from the vocal City fans.
- Ederson: A harsh inclusion given the manner of victory but the Brazilian cost himself a clean sheet by fouling Enock Mwepu for a penalty.
The Brighton forward was going nowhere and looked in no danger of being put under any pressure.
He almost made amends with the penalty but Alexis MacAllister’s spot-kick trickled past him despite a strong touch from his fingertips.
Ederson was later yellow carded for time wasting in the 83rd minute, which brings his rating down further.
Brighton (4-4-2): Sánchez 6, Veltman 5, Dunk 6, Burn 6, (Lamptey, 56;6), Cucurella 6, Groß 5 (MacAllister 72;7), Moder 6, Lallana 6, March 6, Trossard 6, Maupay 5, (Mwepu, 56;6).
Man City (4-3-3): Ederson 7 Cancelo 6, Laporte 6, Dias 6, Walker 6, Gündoğan 8 (Fernandinho 73;6), Rodri 7, Silva 7, Foden 9, Grealish 8 (De Bruyne, 77;6), Jesus 7 (Mahrez, 86;7)
Man of the Match
Phil Foden: The nature of the goals either could have seen Foden without two to his name, but the dubious goals panel were in favour of the Englishman.
His first could have deflected off of Dan Burn but he had the last touch. For his second, it looked like it could have gone to Jesus, but he was attributed to it after getting in the path of the shot to ensure a third goal.
There have been question marks of City’s search for a striker but since the start of last season, Foden has scored 20 goals, with no player scoring more than him.
Away from his obvious impact through his brace, one of the most notable things that he did was showing his leadership qualities. As they exited the field with an unassailable lead, Foden held discussions with Rúben Dias of keeping focused.
The response from City fans in the comments on social media was ‘Future City captain’ and how fitting would that be?
Attention now turns to the Carabao Cup for City, a competition which they have a stronghold over, winning five of the last six, which ranks them as the joint most with Liverpool.
They travel to the London Stadium to face David Moyes’ West Ham United in the Round of 16 on Wednesday.
Albion are also still in the Cup and make the trip to the Midlands to face Leicester City also on the same night.