Manchester City extended their unbeaten Premier League run after Phil Foden’s first-half goal secured a comfortable 1-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Foden found the back of the net a minute before half-time and that proved to be enough for Pep Guardiola’s men to make it eight games without defeat – including four straight wins – in the top flight.
England international Foden took his tally for the season to eight goals in all competitions at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, making him City’s highest-scoring player in 2020-21.
Bernardo Silva hit the crossbar and Gabriel Jesus made his return from COVID-19 as a substitute, but City were unable to add to their tally, with Raheem Sterling missing a stoppage-time penalty.
A lovely exchange between Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan led to the first major opening in the 14th minute, but the Belgium international was kept out by Robert Sanchez inside the six-yard box.
Mahrez was unable to supply the finish at the end of an intricate move around the visitors’ box, before De Bruyne was again denied by Sanchez following a counter-attack from Brighton’s first corner.
City made the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time, with Foden controlling a pass from De Bruyne exquisitely and guiding a fine finish into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box.
8 & 14 – Phil Foden is now Manchester City’s highest goalscorer in all competitions this season (8), while no Premier League player has more assists in all comps than Kevin De Bruyne (14). Citizens. #MCIBHA
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 13, 2021
Guardiola’s men remained comfortably on top in the second half and after Mahrez missed a one-on-one, Sanchez denied Gundogan and saw Silva’s follow-up – which came after he sent the ball through Ben White’s legs – crash back off the bar.
Substitute Sterling blazed his last-gasp penalty over after De Bruyne pounced on a wayward header from Lewis Dunk and was taken down by Sanchez.
But City had done enough to move up to third and four points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.
What does it mean? Defence still rules for City
City have done well to put together a strong run despite the absences of Jesus and Sergio Aguero, but their impressive form has been built on their defence.
They have conceded just two goals during their eight-game unbeaten run, while they have let in just seven in their past 14 outings in the top flight – four fewer than any other side since the start of October.
Brighton looked dangerous on the break at times, but Ruben Dias and John Stones secured a clean sheet for Ederson on his return from coronavirus.
Delightful De Bruyne
De Bruyne was at the heart of everything positive for City in the first half. By setting up Foden he has now assisted 14 goals in all competitions this season, a tally no Premier League player can better.
Jesus use raises questions
City finally have a fit striker in Jesus, but for some reason Guardiola decided to play him from the left after sending him on in the 67th minute. It was not until Sterling entered 15 minutes later that the Brazil international got to play through the middle.
Key Opta Stats:
– City have won their last four Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 11 in the competition (W4 D5 L2).
– Brighton are without a win in nine Premier League games, the longest current run in the competition (D5 L4).
– City have missed seven penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season, more than any other side. Three of these have been missed by Sterling.
– No side have kept more Premier League clean sheets this season than City (8), who also have the fewest goals conceded so far this term (13).
– City have won all seven of their Premier League meetings with Brighton by an aggregate score of 21-2.
City host Crystal Palace on Sunday in the second of three straight Premier League home games, while Brighton are in action at Leeds United a day prior.