Erling Haaland netted two in the first half at the Etihad as City led 2-0 at the break, but the champions were far off their best levels in the second period and Leandro Trossard halved the deficit on 53 minutes.
From then on, Brighton were on top and City failed to play with their usual rhythm. Yet De Bruyne’s goal after 75 minutes ended any hopes of the visitors coming away with a share of points. De Bruyne received the ball around 25 yards out from goal and delivered a powerful yet curling effort that floated over the head of Robert Sanchez and into the back of the net.
The Belgian was awarded City’s man of the match while he received our joint-highest rating on Saturday, along with Haaland. The No.17 has also registered nine assists this campaign, the highest in the league so far this season.
However, Guardiola said after the match that De Bruyne is not playing at his best at the moment. “He can be better. He is not playing at his top level, Kevin, not yet,” opined the former Barcelona manager.
“He made a fantastic goal, but he is not playing at his best. He knows, I don’t have to tell him. His dynamic [movements] are not perfect. He knows that, I spoke to him. The goal was outstanding and thanks to him we didn’t suffer in the last 15 minutes,” Guardiola added.
The win moves City to within a point of leaders Arsenal, who play Southampton on Sunday and could re-establish their four-point supremacy. Up next for City it’s a trip to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League before playing Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.