Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City confirmed their status as Premier League title favourites with a professional 2-0 win at promoted Brighton and Hove Albion in their opening game on Saturday.
While rivals Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool made uncertain starts to the campaign, City dominated their game against the division’s new boys.
Only a failure to convert their dominance of the ball into goals raised any doubts about their credentials.
Pep Guardiola’s expensively assembled team enjoyed 76 percent of possession, but scored only twice, through Sergio Aguero after 70 minutes and an own goal by Brighton defender Lewis Dunk five minutes later.
In front of a record Amex Stadium crowd of 30,415, Brighton did not manage to force a single save from Ederson, who had one of the most uneventful debuts of any goalkeeper in Premier League history.
It was the Seagulls’ first top-flight match since 1983. Coincidentally, their previous home game at this level had also been against City, a 1-0 defeat that confirmed their relegation.
City also went down that season, but while Brighton may struggle again on this evidence, City look in the mood to live up to the bookmakers’ billing.
Guardiola also gave debuts to Kyle Walker and Danilo and Walker’s pace gave the home side early jitters as he advanced down the right before cutting back a dangerous cross that Brighton cleared with difficulty.
Then Gabriel Jesus flicked the ball over the head of Dunk, only for his final pass to be intercepted by Ireland centre-back Shane Duffy.
Brighton seemed in awe of their visitors and it was lucky for them that Danilo shot wildly after Solly March had failed to track his run.
As Chris Hughton’s men repeatedly gave the ball away, it seemed only a matter of time before City got the ball in the net.
It happened after 27 minutes when Jesus got inside Dunk to reach a lofted pass from Aguero.
But as the ball bounced up off the forward’s knee, he nudged it past Mathew Ryan with his arm before colliding with the Australian goalkeeper.
Winded, he required treatment before rising from the turf to be shown a yellow card by referee Michael Oliver.
– De Bruyne pounces –
Jesus should have scored a legitimate goal after 33 minutes.
Walker again crossed from the right, the ball going over the giant Duffy to leave the onrushing Brazilian a free header.