Hazard puts Chelsea ahead of Liverpool
There were few headlines as Manchester City notched another win under their belt for the beginning of the season to keep themselves in competition with the top of the Premier League. It was a tough afternoon as Brighton defended well, but Pep Guardiola's side kept plugging away and eased themselves to a 2-0 win with very little fuss in the end.
Just when the fans' frustrations at Mat Ryan's time wasting and Brighton's determination to leave no gaps threatened to boil over, City were able to step it up a gear and find a goal. First, Raheem Sterling finished off a brilliant breakaway, before Sergio Aguero took a flagging game by the scuff of the neck to pretty much set himself up for a goal-of-the-month contender.
Very little went wrong, though Guardiola may be concerned that Brighton were difficult to break down. Sure, they offered very little threat to Ederson's goal, but it took a lot of patience for City to create their chances. The manager may also have brought Phil Foden on a bit earlier than he did.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- The team selection got the job done, but could he have freshened it up a little earlier and given more minutes to Foden.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 6 -- Aside from the odd high ball to claim, the goalkeeper was largely a spectator. It's a low mark purely because he didn't even need to be handy with his feet for this one.
DF Kyle Walker, 7 -- The defender showed some great bursts of pace to nip in behind the Brighton back line, but his teammates either didn't spot him and chose not to use him as an option. There were a number of good sprints back, too, to snuff out counter-attacks.
Pick your eight-man team and compete in the Champions League, Premier League, La Liga or Liga MX, then go head-to-head in leagues against your friends or people around the world. Sign up for free!
Your team will be made up of eight players, at four different positions: two forwards, three midfielders, two defenders, and a goalkeeper. Find out more here.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 6 -- Possibly in the team for a physical battle with Glenn Murray -- only for Brighton to leave the striker on the bench. Nevertheless, the defender was strong in the air and got the ball down when he could.
DF Aymeric Laporte, 7 -- With a makeshift left-back beside him, the Frenchman was aware to offer himself as protection for Oleksandr Zinchenko every time the pacey Anthony Knockaert tried to get in behind. Laporte was also in the wars, taking a few rough tumbles, but he dusted himself down and got on with it.
DF Oleksandr Zinchenko, 7 -- After a very bright first half, he faded a little in the second. He showed excellent awareness of his position, given he's not a defender, and looks to have grown in confidence since a string of positive cameos in the role last season.
MF Fernandinho, 6 -- The Brazilian looked tired. Several times he was almost caught in possession, as he had his head up looking for an option, though it didn't cost his team on the counter-attack. Still, nobody does his job like he does, and even on a quieter day he played his part in a solid win.
MF David Silva, 6 -- Perhaps it's because of the quality of performance that City fans have been used to from David Silva, but he seemed a little quiet against Brighton. A number of passes seemed to slow down quick breakaways, while he couldn't seem to unlock a packed defence.
MF Bernardo Silva, 7 -- It was more of a free role given to the creative midfielder against Brighton and he drifted around the pitch playing little one-twos in vital areas. He wasn't involved in either goal and, like his namesake, couldn't quite influence the play like he'd have wanted -- but he never shied away.
MF Raheem Sterling, 8 -- A goal and an assist isn't a bad return for any attacker. Sterling was always looking to get on the front foot and he was causing problems for the Brighton defence when he was on either flank. It's this influence in games like this one that illustrates why City fans are desperate for him to put pen to paper on a new contract -- but also why he should be one of the club's top earners.
MF Leroy Sane, 6 -- It wasn't for the want of trying, but the German couldn't quite get his game going. He had chances on the ball, but always seemed to find himself crowded out with little in the way of support from his teammates.
FW Sergio Aguero, 7 -- Starved of chances with how Brighton were defending, the striker took it upon himself to make a chance for himself -- and when he did, he scored a belter. It was a magnificent run to skip through a string of challenges and he was never missing when he got a return pass from Sterling. It was just a shame his overhead kick was blocked in the first half by Shane Duffy. Spoilsport.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 6 -- He wasn't really in the game, after replacing Aguero on 66 minutes; his one chance to lead a counter-attack saw him overrun the ball.
MF Riyad Mahrez, NR -- On for Sane, Mahrez had a couple of opportunities to get in the box, but no real time to impress.
MF Phil Foden, NR -- The youngster got the final two minutes plus stoppage time in place of David Silva, while fans were begging for that change ten minutes earlier.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND -- Pep Guardiola admitted Sergio Aguero is struggling with an injury problem following Manchester City's 2-0 win over Brighton on Saturday.
Aguero scored City's crucial second goal on 65 minutes before he was substituted for Gabriel Jesus. And after the match, Guardiola said Aguero is not guaranteed to feature in the Champions League against Hoffenheim or at Liverpool next week.
"Sergio is struggling a bit with some problems in his foot," Guardiola said.
"He is not 100 percent. He has not recovered from what happened against Newcastle and we spoke about playing about 60 minutes and we were lucky he scored at the right moment."
City now face a crucial game against Hoffenheim on Tuesday after they lost their Champions League opener at home to Lyon. Then they travel to title rivals Liverpool on Sunday and Guardiola said Aguero is a doubt.
"It is a problem but he needs time," Guardiola added. "Now we have two games left before the international break and hopefully he can do these two and then make a final recovery. But he's not in his best condition right now physically because of the problem in his foot."
The victory maintained the pressure on Liverpool and Chelsea and Guardiola believes his side are close to playing their best football of last season when they won the title with a record 100 points.
"Yes, [we are playing like that] most of the time," Guardiola said. "In some situations, even better.
"Kyle [Walker] is learning a lot to play a bit more inside so after what happened last season we have fears to drop points in this part of the season.
"We dropped points at Wolves because they are a good side but in general, all the performance was quite good. But it is just September, two games before the international break will be so important for us, for the rest of the season. With that spirit, the way we play, everybody is focused."