Phil Foden scored twice as Manchester City eased to a 4-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion to keep pressure on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.
Chelsea sent out a message with a thumping 7-0 win against Norwich City earlier on Saturday, but City responded with a convincing win of their own to close the gap on the leaders to two points.
Foden’s double at the Amex Stadium came after Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring as the visitors went three goals ahead inside 31 minutes in a dominant first-half showing.
Brighton improved in the second half and pulled back a deserved consolation nine minutes from time through substitute Alexis Mac Allister’s penalty, though City had the final say when Foden played in Riyad Mahrez for a late fourth.
FULL TIME | City ride out a spirited Brighton fight back to claim all three points in style!
Lewis Dunk produced an acrobatic goal-line clearance to deny Gabriel Jesus early on, but Gundogan tapped in two minutes later after Robert Sanchez failed to take a routine catch and Bernardo Silva hooked the ball into his City team-mate’s path.
Sanchez initially did well to keep the scoring down with a couple of good saves, only for Foden – under pressure from Brighton defender Dan Burn – to double his side’s tally by converting Jack Grealish’s unselfish pass at the end of a swift counter.
Foden was credited with the goal after some initial uncertainty over whether he or Burn got the final touch, and he had a second soon after, the England international getting in the way of a Jesus shot to help deflect it past a wrong-footed Sanchez.
Brighton recovered from two goals down to beat City 3-2 at this ground in May and they grew into the game in the second half, with Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard finally calling Ederson into action.
City could not hold on for a seventh clean sheet in nine league games this term as Ederson caught Enock Mwepu and fellow Albion substitute Mac Allister made no mistake from the penalty spot, but there was still time for Mahrez to lash in his seventh of the season at the other end when played in by Foden.
What does it mean? City keep pace with Chelsea
City may not have racked up the seven goals Chelsea managed against Norwich in Saturday’s early kick-off, but Brighton are far stronger opposition than the doomed Canaries and this was a performance equally as impressive.
Brighton had lost just one of their opening eight games and entered this match only two points behind City, yet they were completely blown away by the reigning champions, especially in an incredibly one-sided first half.
The nine shots on target managed by City in the first half is the most by a team in a Premier League game before the interval this term.
City’s lack of an out-and-out striker has been a topic of discussion since the moment the transfer window closed, yet once again that was not a problem as they made it 37 goals in 14 matches this season.
Each of City’s five attackers – Silva, Gundogan, Jesus, Foden and Grealish – either scored or assisted a goal in the first half. Gundogan now has 13 Premier League goals this calendar year – only Mohamed Salah (16) and Harry Kane (15) have more.
City were closing in on another clean sheet when Ederson rushed off his line and took out Mwepu, allowing Mac Allister to convert from the penalty spot.
The Brazilian goalkeeper will be doubly disappointed as he even managed to get a hand to the penalty without keeping it out. He has now conceded 15 of the last 16 spot-kicks he has faced in the Premier League.
Both sides are in EFL Cup last-16 action next Wednesday, with City travelling to West Ham and Brighton away at Leicester City.
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