An inspired Manchester City side struck twice in the second-half to condemn Chris Hughton’s Brighton to defeat in their first-ever Premier League clash at The Amex Stadium yesterday-evening.
Pep Guardiola’s men, who had entertained the likes of Tottenham, Real Madrid and Manchester United in pre-season, fielded an excitingly strong line-up that included the rarity of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus up-front together.
Whereas, the hosts, who had thrown-away the Championship title to Newcastle United, were without star-man Anthony Knockaert from the start due to a knock that he picked up during their pre-season preparations. The Seagull’s fans had witnessed their club embark on the ultimate football rags to riches story, from the point of liquidation and no home-Ground to The Premier League and were out in-force to cheer their side on.
However, the jubilant mood inside The Fulmer Stadium was soon quashed by the visitors, who dominated early-on. Such was the strength of the City line-up that the likes of Yaya Toure, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling had to settle for a place on the bench, but it was the players that were on the pitch who were creating for The Citizens.
Spanish winger David Silva may have been sporting a new-look, but his play would stay very-much the same and his early cross was nearly directed into his own-net by Dale Stephens.
The Citizens were pushing hard for an opener and they thought that they had found it just-before the half-hour mark, when Jesus fired past Matt Ryan from close-range, only for referee Michael Oliver to pull play back for a handball.
New-signing and Australian international Ryan would soon be given a true taste of The Premier League, but the 25-year-old was up to the test as he denied Jesus with an eye-catching double-save to keep things all-square at the break.
The home fans were beginning to get understandably restless with their side’s play and this prompted a second-half reaction for The Seagulls. Davy Propper set-up Shane Duffy to volley just-wide from inside the box, and come the closest to breaking the deadlock for the hosts, just after Jesus had yet another goal ruled out for City. However, it wouldn’t be long before the hosts did eventually take the lead through 2014/2015 Golden Boot winner Sergio Aguero.
Propper was again caught in possession by Kevin De Bruyne, who was able to run into space and find David Silva to slip a delightful ball into Aguero. The Argentine needed no second-invitation to place the ball into the top-corner to give The Citizens the lead on 75-minutes.
Just five-minutes later, the visitors doubled their advantage to all-but seal the deal on an opening-three-points. Jesus was involved yet again, but frustratingly the Brazilian failed to get to Fernandinho’s delivery. Instead, the ball cannoned off the head of Lewis Dunk and slipped under Matt Ryan, for an embarrassing own-goal on a disappointing afternoon for Chris Hughton and his newly-promoted side.
Whereas, the travelling City fans made the long trip back to Manchester on a high, having got their bid for a third-title in six-years underway with a win.
The opening-defeat drops Brighton down into 18th, a place in front of rivals Crystal Palace, who were thrashed 0-3 at home to David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town. The Seagulls have been tipped to stay in the bottom-three for the entirety of the season, and there certainly is early cause for concern at The Amex.
Meanwhile, City occupy second-place and are only not at the summit of the Premier League Table due to the same-result at Selhurst Park. Next-up for The Citizens is the visit of Ronald Koeman’s Everton to The Etihad next Monday, with Brighton going in search of their first-Premier League victory at The King Power Stadium in 6-days-time.