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Manchester City extended their unbeaten streak in the Premier League after Phil Foden’s goal in the first half secured a comfortable 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Foden found the back of the net a minute before the break, and that was enough for Pep Guardiola’s men to go eight games without defeat, including four consecutive victories, in the top flight.
England international Foden raised his season tally 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 increase his account, with Raheem Sterling missing a penalty in stoppage time.
A beautiful exchange between Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan led to the first grand opening in the 14th minute, but the Belgian international was held out by Robert Sanchez within the six-yard box.
Mahrez was unable to complete the spike at the end of an intricate movement around the visitors area, before De Bruyne was again denied by Sánchez following a counterattack from Brighton’s first corner.
City made the breakthrough at the edge of the break, with Foden exquisitely controlling a pass from De Bruyne and guiding a fine shot into the lower left corner from the edge of the box.
8-14: Phil Foden is now Manchester City’s top scorer in all competitions this season (8), while no Premier League player has more assists in all competitions than Kevin De Bruyne (14). The citizens. #MCIBHA
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 13, 2021
Guardiola’s men stayed comfortably on top in the second half and after Mahrez missed a one-on-one, Sánchez denied Gundogan and saw Silva’s follow-up, which came after he sent the ball through the Ben White’s legs, slammed into the bar.
Substitute Sterling took his last-gasp penalty after De Bruyne pounced on a wayward header from Lewis Dunk and was brought down by Sanchez.
But City had done enough to move up to third place and four points behind leader Manchester United with one game less.
What does that mean? Defense still rules for the city
City have done well to build a hot streak despite the absences of Jesús and Sergio Agüero, but their impressive form has been based on their defense.
They have conceded just two goals during their eight-game unbeaten streak, while letting in just seven in their last 14 top flight outings, four fewer than any other team since early October.
Brighton looked dangerous at halftime at times, but Ruben Dias and John Stones secured a clean sheet for Ederson upon his return from the coronavirus.
Delicious De Bruyne
De Bruyne was at the center of everything positive for City in the first half. By setting up Foden, he has now assisted to 14 goals in all competitions this season, a score that no Premier League player can beat.
The use of Jesus raises questions
City finally have a forward fit in Jesus, but for some reason Guardiola decided to play him from the left after sending him off in the 67th minute. It wasn’t until Sterling came in 15 minutes after the Brazilian international came to play down the middle.
Opta Key Statistics:
– City have won their last four Premier League games, as many as they have won in their previous 11 in the competition (G4 D5 L2).
– Brighton are winless in nine Premier League games, the current longest streak in the competition (D5 L4).
– City have missed seven penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season, more than any other team. Sterling has overlooked three of these.
– No team has kept more clean sheets in the Premier League this season than City (8), who also have the fewest goals conceded so far this season (13).
– City have won all seven Premier League games with Brighton by an aggregate score of 21-2.
City host Crystal Palace on Sunday in the second of three consecutive Premier League home games, while Brighton play Leeds United a day earlier.