City’s season is up and running after Pep Guardiola’s side finally saw off Brighton’s dogged resistance. The Blues needed to be patient against the Premier League new boys and had to wait until the final third of the match before Sergio Aguero and a Lewis Dunk own goal settled a hard-fought 2-0 win.
What happened? City began brightly, dominating possession and moving the ball around effortlessly, usually via the promptings of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. Brighton packed their defence, looking to contain the Blues early on and lay the foundations for the game which began in resplendent early evening sunshine and lengthening shadows at the sell-out Amex Stadium. Gabriel Jesus had a couple of half chances and Silva’s cross was almost guided into his own net by Dale Stephens before Jesus did find the back of the net just before the half-hour – only to see his effort ruled out for handball. As City continued to knock at the Seagulls’ door, Jesus again went close and perhaps should have opened the scoring as a scintillating move saw Silva feed Aguero and the Argentine’s cross was headed straight at Brighton keeper Ryan from point blank range by the young Brazil striker. That was the last real chance of what had been a largely frustrating first period for the Blues who had laboured to unlock a resolute home defence. Jesus was again denied a goal by the assistant referee’s flag eight minutes after the break following nice work by Fernandinho and Silva – TV replays suggested it was a marginal decision at best. Then a poor back pass allowed Aguero a clear run on goal but a last-ditch challenge by Lewis Dunk. Then the hosts came close with a number of half-chances during a frantic couple of minutes ending with Duffy zipping a low shot just a foot wide after some desperate defending by the Blues – it was a timely reminder that while the scores were still level, Brighton were very much in this game. De Bruyne saw a powerful shot strike Dunk’s arm but referee Oliver was unimpressed – a decision that infuriated the City players as the Brighton’s man’s arm was clearly in an upward trajectory when it hit. Ultimately, it mattered little because within five minutes the Blues scored two goals to all but seal the points. The goal that broke the deadlock cam on 70 minutes and was due in no small part to the work of De Bruyne who won the ball on the halfway line before feeding Silva who threaded a pass to Aguero who made no mistake with a clinical finish from eight yards. Within five minutes, the Blues had doubled their lead after persistence by Aguero ended with Fernandinho’s cross being headed past his own keeper by the unfortunate Dunk – a slam-dunk if ever there was! Naturally, that took the wind completely out of Brighton’s sails and City played out the remaining minutes comfortably and without any further threat from the hosts who will be disappointed but proved they will be a tough nut to crack at the Amex.
Key moment: The moment De Bruyne won the ball from Stephens on the halfway line the Blues were on their way to victory. Not everything came off for the Belgian in this game, but he never stopped working or trying to find an opening.
Star Man: Sergio Aguero Like De Bruyne, not everything came off for Kun in this game, but give him opportunities and he will find the net sooner or later. He also had a bug hand in the second, killer goal after he’d opened his account for the season minutes earlier in what is likely to be a record-breaking, historic season for the Argentina star.
What it means… City go second in the embryonic Premier League table, behind leaders Huddersfield Town on goal difference having navigated a tough opening day challenge from the Seagulls – the seventh year in a row that the Blues have started the campaign with three points.
What’s next? City fly out to Spain for a warm weather training camp and friendly with La Liga side Girona before returning to Manchester to prepare for the first home game of the campaign against Everton a week on Monday.
Brighton (0): Ryan Duffy Saltor Grau (Murphy 24’) Suttner Dunk Stephens Brown Pröpper March (Knockaert 77’) Groß Hemed (Murray 60’)
Manchester City (2): Ederson Otamendi Stones Kompany Walker De Bruyne Danilo (Sane 66’) Silva Fernandinho de Jesus (Sterling 78’) Agüero (Bernardo 83’)