Men against boys as Sterling leads Man City rout of Brighton

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This match was over long before the end, as Man City toyed with their hosts for the most part.

Pep Guardiola’s side were so superior it looked like a training game at times and Brighton had no answer to the wonderfully inventive football of their visitors.

Here’s how the two sides lined up for the game:

Brighton, 4-2-3-1: Ryan, Bernardo, Dunk, Webster, Montoya, Propper, Bissouma, Gross, Mooy, Trossard, Connolly.

Subs: 59’ Propper off for Stephens, 59’ Montoya off for Lamptey, 59’ Connolly off for Maupay, 69’ Trossard off for Jahanbakhsh, 78’ Gross off for Burn

Man City, 4-3-3: Moraes, Walker, Garcia, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Silva, Hernandez, Sterling, Jesus, Mahrez

Subs: 63’ Mendy off for Zinchenko, 63’ Jesus off for Foden, 63’ De Bruyne off for David Silva, 72’ Garcia off for Stones, 72’ Rodri off for Fernandinho

First Half

As might be expected, Manchester City made all the running in the opening few minutes at the AMEX Stadium.

The visitors were into their stride much quicker than their hosts, with Gabriel Jesus heading wide despite being left wide open in the area.

Brighton were finding it difficult to get up a head of steam as Pep Guardiola’s side played their familiar style of swarming all over their oppponent’s until they eventually succumb.

That they did in the 21st minute as a wonderful cross-field ball from Riyad Mahrez needed the tiniest of touches from Jesus to head the ball into the path of Raheem Sterling.

Two touches to set himself and then the winger’s low drive found the bottom corner to give City a deserved lead.

As soon as that goal had gone in, it began to look like a training match, with City schooling the Seagulls.

Brighton were industrious and hard-working but as soon as City put the foot on the accelerator, it was men against boys.

Davy Propper was easily dispossessed by Kevin De Bruyne on 35, his square ball finding Jesus whose shot smashed back off of the crossbar.

Jesus had better luck just before half-time. A floated corner found Rodri, and his towering header picked out the Brazilian at the back post for a tap-in.

Brighton appealed for offside but it was in vain, Jesus timing his short run to perfection.

The second goal was no more than the visitors deserved, and at that point it was a question of when, not if, they’d add to the score line.

Second Half

De Bruyne’s superbly struck free-kick on 50 minutes deserved better than finding the woodwork again, as City began the second 45 the way they had ended the first.

Brighton were being run ragged by a side at the top of their game, and when you consider that the title is already gone, and they’ve nothing really to play for, Pep Guardiola deserves huge credit for continuing to get such high-quality performances out of his players.

Just two minutes later, Sterling had his second and his 26th of the season with the simplest of headers from inside the six-yard box.

Bernardo Silva quickly got in on the act too. Matt Ryan spilt an easy shot and the Portuguese was on hand to fire in a fourth on 56 for a by-now rampant City.

Still the visitors poured forward and not even Brighton’s triple substitution could stem the tide.

Mahrez managed to sit Ryan down but with enough defenders back, the Algerian could only find the side netting.

With 10 minutes to go, a hopeful ball forward saw Sterling hare after it, and even whilst falling to the floor under a challenge, and with his eye not on the ball, he still managed to head the ball goal wards, nutmegging Ryan in the process, for City’s fifth.

The final 10 minutes weren’t without incident, but City were unable to add to the score.

Courtesy of Google
Courtesy of Google

Post-match thoughts

Anyone who wants to question Pep Guardiola’s motivation only needs to look at this game as the barometer for what he expects from his teams in every single game.

Nothing riding on this other than pride, and yet the Catalan ensured that the visitors were on the front foot throughout.

You can already sense that City are going to get after Liverpool next season in what will surely be another incredibly exciting title race.

The less said about Brighton the better. They offered nothing by way of attacking verve though not many sides would’ve lived with City in this mood.

More Stories Bernardo Silva Gabriel Jesus matt ryan Pep Guardiola Raheem Sterling Riyad Mahrez