Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Manchester City 2
Albion improved on their previous top-flight debut even though they lost to a Sergio Aguero opener and a Lewis Dunk own goal at the Amex.
City penned Albion back for large parts of the first half and Albion’s game plan was thrown into disarray by the early injury to Izzy Brown.
Maty Ryan was kept busy on his Premier League debut. He pushed away a shot from Aguero and then from Kevin De Bruyne as the Seagulls worked hard to soak up the relentless City pressure.
Davy Propper, Albion’s £10 million midweek signing, struggled to get to grips with the competitive midfield battle and wanted far too much time on the ball. He, Bruno and Pascal Gross were guilty of giving away possession too cheaply.
Albion’s attacking outlet Tomer Hemed looked too far out of his depth as he was outwitted or outmuscled by City’s world class defenders. Kyle Walker, in particular, was quick to snuff out any intention that Hemed had of being an attacking threat.
City new boy Gabriel Jesus was adjudged to have handled the ball into the net and was booked and injured for his effort.
Albion looked sound defensively but toothless in attack. Solly March was the only Seagulls player who looked to have any initiative about him.
The Albion were containing City but the home team were oh so rigid, with Gross and Dale Stephens not daring to stray from the zone they had been told to patrol.
Not unlike Sunday’s match against Madrid the first time City goalkeeper Ederson touched the ball, apart from back passes, was to touch over a Dunk header from a decent March cross.
Albion went in level at half time and as the second period started showed a little more attacking prowess.
Shane Duffy saw an effort flash wide from a March corner then, after Propper miscued, Markus Suttner saw a half volley go inches wide of Ederson’s left-hand post.
For a while it seemed Hughton’s tactic of soaking up pressure until the opposition ran out of ideas might just work until Aguero found himself some space, opened his body up and angled a shot past Ryan to put City in front with 20 minutes to go.
Just five minutes later Fernandinho crossed in for Jesus but the ball cannoned off Dunk’s head and through Ryan’s arms for 2-0 to City.
It was the second time in a week the ball has squirmed through Ryan’s body – a small concern for a keeper who cost in excess of £5 million.
Both Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert were introduced late on but by then City were rather toying with Albion and seeking a third.
Not a bad first effort from the Seagulls and it’s likely Hughton had a specific game plan to avoid annihilation.
It worked but Albion have to be far more fluid and adventurous next week at Leicester or else Gordon Smith’s record as Albion’s last top flight goal scorer will drag on and on.
What a day though! A day when at last the rallying cry from the Goldstone’s North Stand from the late 80s and early 90s finally rang true, even in defeat Brighton are back!