Man City 1 Brighton 0: Foden continues sparkling form as strike takes City third despite Sterling penalty miss

PHIL FODEN’S superb first half winner gave Manchester City a fourth straight Premier League win and kept them firmly in the title frame.

The England starlet has been in great form since he was given a regular starting spot by Pep Guardiola just before Christmas.

And his goal and all round display here must have caught the eye of watching Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

It could turn out to be a huge moment in City’s season as they were given a big test here by Graham Potter’s confident side.

The Etihad boss had said before the game how highly he rates the Seagulls and no wonder on this evidence.

Albion had won only one of their last 15 Premier League matches and none of the last eight- so this looked a banker on paper.

Yet to Potter’s credit he decided to take the game to City early on – playing with three forwards to ask a few questions.

It seemed to unsettle the home side – who were again playing without a recognised centre forward – in the early stages.

City had won their last three in the league to quietly put themselves into the title race – while also progressing in both domestic cups.

City gradually got into their stride though as Ilkay Gundogan played a neat one two to put De Bruyne through but Robert Sanchez got down smartly to save.

But a big chance came at the other end as Alexis MacAllister put Leandro Trossard in with a chance but he curled his shot wide of the far post.

Adam Webster was penalised for passing back to his keeper Sanchez close to the half hour mark but if anything the free-kick was too close to the goal.

There were too many bodies for De Bruyne to get his 10 yard kick through and MacAllister was able to block.

The Belgian was starting to boss the game and his low cross almost reached Riyad Mahrez at the back post but Brighton’s Bernardo got hit foot there first.

Then he led a breakaway which saw him swap passes with Phil Foden before bringing a smart save from the visiting keeper.

It felt like a goal was coming and sure enough it was those two who combined again to make the breakthrough just before the break.

De Bruyne slipped the ball into Foden whose brilliant first touch took him away from Webster and Joel Veltman before he struck a low 20 yard shot into the corner.

His eighth goal of the season – making him City’s top scorer – was timely with Gareth Southgate in the stands.

Foden is finally getting his run in the team and Pep Guardiola is reaping the rewards.  

Such was the relief at breaking Brighton’s resistence, several players ran in to give the England ace a hug – despite repeated warnings that must not happen.

City had a spring in their step after the break as Mahrez latched onto Joao Cancelo’s pass but rolled his shot wide of the far post.

Gundogan’s effort was saved by Sanchez and from the rebound Silva clattered the outside of the angle with the rebound.  

Cancelo then saw his shot blocked after a weaving run into the box and De Bruyne had a shot saved by Sanchez.

It was way back on November 8 last time a striker scored a Premier League goal for City – eight games ago – and Guardiola threw on Gabriel Jesus to try to finish this one off.

But the Seagulls were happy to play City at their own game and were very much still in it.

Only a superbly timed last ditch tackle by John Stones denied Neal Maupay as he burst through on goal – while a flurry of late corners came to nothing.

A terrible mix up late on saw Dunk's header back fall short – De Bruyne upended by Sanchez and ref Darren England pointed to the spot. 

Raheem Sterling who had only been on the pitch a few minutes took the penalty but skied it high over the bar. 

In the end it didn't matter as City saw the game out.

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