Phil Foden brace helps Man City thump Brighton and close gap on leaders Arsenal

Manchester City closed the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal to a single point after Phil Foden’s first-half double helped inspire a resounding 4-0 victory over Brighton.

Kevin De Bruyne’s eye-catching diving header set Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions on course for a comprehensive success at a soggy Amex Stadium.

City, who have a game in hand on the table-topping Gunners, were in complete control by the break as Foden moved past 50 top-flight goals with a quick-fire brace, before Julian Alvarez completed the rout in the second period.

In-form Foden now has eight goals in only 10 career appearances against outclassed Albion thanks to a deflected free-kick followed by a clinical first-time finish just eight minutes later.

Albion, whose persistence in playing out from the back contributed to their downfall, had reason to feel aggrieved about the England midfielder’s first strike due to him going down under minimal contact from Lewis Dunk following a nibble from Jakub Moder.

But Roberto De Zerbi’s 11th-placed hosts could have few complaints about their winless run stretching to five games as City deservedly leapfrogged Liverpool into second spot and moved within touching distance of Arsenal, while giving their goal difference a timely boost.

City resumed their title defence after scraping past Chelsea to reach the FA Cup final on the back of crashing out of the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid.

Manager Guardiola warned his title-chasing side faced one of their toughest tests of the seasons in Sussex and, with top scorer Erling Haaland once again unavailable due to injury, made three changes.

The visitors eased their way into the contest before edging ahead in the 17th minute thanks to a moment of magic.

Kyle Walker was released down the right by Foden and his cross was superbly headed into the top right corner from level with the penalty spot by the flying De Bruyne.

Brighton, seeking to revive their floundering European push, showed glimpses of attacking enterprise to give their title-chasing opponents something to think about.

Former Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck and captain Dunk each tested City goalkeeper Ederson in the early stages before the Seagulls slipped further behind in contentious circumstances in the 26th minute.

Home fans were angered by referee Jarred Gillett’s decision to award City a free-kick on the edge of the box and Foden, who appeared to slip before hitting the deck, duly fired home a landmark strike with the aid of hefty deflection off Pascal Gross.

Brighton were swiftly staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat.

Risky attempts to play out from the back were seized on by City and, after Bernardo Silva intercepted a pass from full Premier League debutant Valentin Barco on the edge of the hosts’ penalty area, Foden calmly slotted his 16th league goal of the season into the bottom left corner.

Brighton boss De Zerbi responded to a dismal opening period by replacing Joel Veltman and Adam Lallana with young defender Odeluga Offiah and forward Simon Adingra.

Seagulls supporters were frustrated to be denied a penalty a minute after the restart when Gross tumbled under pressure from Rodri.

Any hopes of an unlikely Albion fightback were extinguished in the 62nd minute.

Roving City captain Walker was released down the right and, having cut inside Barco, he slid in to divert the ball away from Brighton keeper Jason Steele, allowing Alvarez to sweep into the unguarded net.

Match official Gillett prompted further ire from the terraces 20 minutes from time when he waved play on after Joao Pedro appeared to be bundled over in the box by Josko Gvardiol.

Pedro later slotted wide from close range before City comfortably saw out the contest to make an ominous statement of intent ahead of continuing their quest for a sixth title in seven years on Sunday at relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.


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