Erling Haaland scored once more as Manchester City defeated Brighton by a score of 2-1 to go back on track.
The champions were in danger of suffering three straight Premier League losses for the first time under Pep Guardiola after losing two games in a row previous to the most recent international break.
Play got underway at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and early goals from Julian Alvarez and Haaland—his first City goal in four games—put them on course for three points, making it appear unlikely.
Ansu Fati, a replacement for Brighton, answered back 17 minutes from time, making it a tense conclusion. Tension rose even more when Manuel Akanji received a second yellow card in stoppage time, but City held on.
With Rodri back after his costly recent suspension, City had looked more like their aggressive selves for the whole of the game. Even though first-choice custodian Ederson was on the bench following his recent international activities for Brazil, John Stones’ return added to the feeling of security.
Although Brighton has performed well under Roberto De Zerbi, of whom Guardiola frequently praises highly, their defence is proving to be porous, and their vulnerability was promptly exploited.
Early on, Phil Foden caused difficulties for the visitors when he took control and broke forward to free the vivacious Jeremy Doku, who cut inside and curled over.
The first goal came quickly, as once more Doku sailed past the defence to get to the byline and draw back for Alvarez.
The World Cup champion from Argentina didn’t make the prettiest shot, but his first-time shot had too much force, and he beat Jason Steele to score his sixth goal of the year despite that.
Another deep break by City that ended with Josko Gvardiol shooting directly at Steele kept up the pressure.
Brighton’s first opportunity came from Kaoru Mitoma, but Stefan Ortega handled his feeble effort with ease. The Seagulls also suffered a setback when Manchester City’s Danny Welbeck was forced off the pitch with an injury after 15 minutes.
Haaland further exploited Brighton’s defensive frailty by increasing City’s lead after 19 minutes to end his recent goal ‘drought’, by his remarkable standards.
The Norwegian sprinted towards the box and was afforded too much room before unleashing a long left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
When Alvarez shoved Pascal Gross, the VAR was called, but no penalty was granted. Doku then threatened again by beating James Milner, a seasoned Manchester City player, but his shot was off-target.
As Gross skewed a shot wide while under pressure early in the second half, Brighton began to come alive.
Just after the hour, Haaland caught a pass from Foden, but Steele stopped his shot.
After slipping past the City back line, Mitoma had another decent opportunity, but Ortega sprinted out to block on the perimeter of the area.
City disregarded the warning, and shortly after Alvarez’s attempt to lob a stranded Steele fell short, they were ensnared in a quick counterattack.
Brighton moved the ball upfield fast, and even though Akanji intercepted Mitoma’s pass attempt into the danger zone, Fati was there to score the rebound.
Brighton made a late push but had trouble producing chances that mattered. More anxiety for the home crowd was caused by Akanji’s tardy dismissal, but City finished the job.