Manchester City 3-1 Brighton: Player ratings as Haaland & De Bruyne sink the Seagulls

Grey Whitebloom
Erling Haaland scored his 16th and 17th Premier League goals of the season against Brighton
Erling Haaland scored his 16th and 17th Premier League goals of the season against Brighton / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages
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Manchester City moved one point behind Premier League-leading Arsenal with a 3-1 victory at home to Brighton on Saturday afternoon.

After a rare goalless outing in defeat to Liverpool last weekend, Erling Haaland rewarded City's first-half dominance with a brace before the break. A rejigged Brighton started the second half quickly, pegging back their hosts through Leandro Trossard. But Kevin De Bruyne quashed the growing hopes of a fightback with a crisp strike from range.

In a meeting between two managers that know and respect each other greatly, the players under their command took a while to feel each other out.

Both teams were keen to lure the other forward, rolling the ball around the back as though they were wafting a piece of steak in front of a lion's den, baiting the opposition into a press each was wary to commit to.

Haaland crashed through the middle of this tactical chess game in the 22nd minute. Hurtling onto Ederson's arrowed ball which bypassed all Brighton's outfielders - who had been drawn up the pitch by City's short-game - Haaland rounded Robert Sanchez, buffeting Adam Webster to the turf before rolling the game's opening goal into an unguarded net.

City had three penalty appeals waved away by the on-field referee in the first half. However, on the third attempt, the VAR spotted that Lewis Dunk's trailing leg caught Bernardo Silva. Haaland remorselessly rattled the spot-kick beyond Sanchez on the cusp of half-time.

Roberto De Zerbi shuffled his pack during the interval, bringing on Tariq Lamptey which ushered Leandro Trossard forward from wingback. The Belgian capitalised upon his advanced positioning within ten minutes of the restart, collecting the ball on the edge of the box and halving City's advantage with an effort whizzed inside the near post.

Brighton muscled their way into the ascendency after scoring, dominating possession, and living up to Pep Guardiola's description of the Seagulls as "one of few teams who can take the ball and know exactly what they need to do with it."

Fortunately for Guardiola, his side has an idea of what to do in possession themselves. Stringing together a rare extended sequence of passes, City dragged the visiting neon shirts over to the left flank before Bernardo flashed the ball across for De Bruyne. With time to calibrate his radar, City's skipper for the afternoon swept a sumptuous strike into the corner.

As De Zerbi's wait for a victory as Brighton manager drags to five matches, City became the first side since Sunderland in the 1930s to win ten top-flight home matches on the spin, scoring at least three goals in each triumph.


Manchester City vs Brighton player ratings - Premier League

1. Manchester City (4-3-3)

Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland scored in his seventh home game in a row / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

GK: Ederson - 4/10 - Aside from his assist, Ederson's passing was erratic and he got his forearm to Trossard's effort but couldn't keep it out.

RB: Manuel Akanji - 4/10 - Too easily shrugged off the ball, ceding possession immediately before Trossard took aim as the Belgian terrorised him after the break.

CB: Ruben Dias - 5/10 - Didn't offer a great deal of support for Akanji despite his clear struggles.

CB: Aymeric Laporte - 8/10 - On his first Premier League start of the season, Laporte quickly demonstrated the incision he brings and the angles he can create with his left foot.

LB: Joao Cancelo - 7/10 - Wandered into his familiar inverted role, sliding the ball between the lines with a surgical penetration.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne - 8/10 - Surged between Brighton's lines, peppering his performance with bursts of delicate and devastating play.

CM: Rodri - 6/10 - Mopped up behind the flood of sky blue which washed across Brighton's half.

CM: Bernardo Silva - 8/10 - Scampering all over the pitch with an infectious zeal, Bernardo was never far from wherever the ball dropped.

RW: Riyad Mahrez - 5/10 - The soloist in this cohesive unit, Mahrez took each touch as an opportunity to wriggle beyond an opponent but missed a golden opening to make it 3-0.

ST: Erling Haaland - 8/10 - The drought (of one game) is over. Haaland's plush-lipped grin will undoubtedly haunt the nightmares of Brighton's beleaguered backline for weeks to come.

LW: Jack Grealish - 6/10 - The handbrake has certainly been eased with Grealish free to carry the ball forward.

SUB: Phil Foden (62' for Mahrez) - 5/10

SUB: Cole Palmer (76' for Grealish) - N/A

SUB: Julian Alvarez (80' for Haaland) - N/A

Manager: Pep Guardiola - 8/10 - Deliberately and brilliantly mixed up City's short passing style with a smattering of penetrative balls over the top of Brighton's shape.

2. Brighton (3-4-2-1)

Adam Lallana
Adam Lallana was part of an unchanged Brighton side from their midweek draw with Nottingham Forest / Julian Finney/GettyImages

GK: Robert Sanchez - 4/10 - Found himself entirely in No Man's Land as Haaland bypassed him with one touch to break the deadlock.

CB: Joel Veltman - 4/10 - Carried a haunting look of an individual under siege until a merciful injury prematurely concluded his game.

CB: Lewis Dunk - 3/10 - On an afternoon where he got through plenty of positive defensive work, Dunk still conspired to completely lose Haaland for the opening goal and conceded the penalty that the burly Norwegian converted.

CB: Adam Webster - 3/10 - The 6'3 centre-back is no shrinking violet but toppled like a taken pawn when he went shoulder-to-shoulder with Haaland.

RWB: Solly March - 6/10 - Pinned back trying to keep tabs on Grealish in the first half but more comfortable when switched to the left after the break.

CM: Alexis Mac Allister - 4/10 - Swamped and swarmed in midfield.

CM: Moises Caicedo - 5/10 - Trying his best to get touch-tight to De Bruyne's roaming, Caicedo didn't let his proactive approach be hampered by an early yellow card.

LWB: Leandro Trossard - 7/10 - Freed for the second half, Trossard's fizzed effort had just enough pace to evade Ederson.

RF: Pascal Gross - 4/10 - Skirted around the fringes of proceedings.

LF: Adam Lallana - 5/10 - Hooked at half-time after a largely anonymous outing.

ST: Danny Welbeck - 5/10 - Got a nasty whack on the bridge of his nose early in a contest he didn't greatly impact.

SUB: Tariq Lamptey (46' for Lallana) - 6/10 - Gave Brighton another avenue of attack, nipping up and down the right flank.

SUB: Pervis Estupinan (66' for Veltman) - 5/10

SUB: Denis Undav (79' for Welbeck) - N/A

SUB: Billy Gilmour (87' for Mac Allister) - N/A

SUB: Jeremy Sarmiento (87' for Gross) - N/A

Manager: Roberto De Zerbi - 6/10 - Changed the match with his half-time substitution, making the game far more of an even contest after a one-sided opening 45 minutes.

Player of the Match - Erling Haaland

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