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Man City battle past spirited Brighton

From BBC - August 12, 2017

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was relieved to see his side overcome promoted Brighton after their Premier League rivals slipped up earlier in the day.

Title favourites City had to wait to break down the Seagulls before two late goals gave them victory on the south coast.

But they never looked in serious danger of suffering an opening weekend upset in the manner of Chelsea, who lost at home to Burnley, or Liverpool, who were held by Watford.

"The first game is always complicated, in my experience, even with Barcelona - especially against a promoted side when they have the passion and are under no pressure at all," said the former Barca and Bayern Munich boss.

"We saw what happened to Liverpool and Chelsea and we spoke about it. It was unexpected but this is the Premier League - I learned this last season.

"Here every game is a battle, but we controlled the game and it was always in our hands."

The Seagulls, back in the top flight after a 34-year absence, had showed impressive organisation and resolve to keep City at bay until David Silva played in Sergio Aguero to fire home after 70 minutes.

Lewis Dunk headed Fernandinho's cross into his own net five minutes later to make sure of the points for Guardiola's new-look side.

Brighton, who had 22% possession, spent most of the game defending in their own half but had chances with the score at 0-0.

Shane Duffy had a shot deflected just wide and, after City's new 35m goalkeeper Ederson flapped at the resulting corner, Dunk had two shots blocked in quick succession.

But that was the only time City's defence was under pressure and the day was more of a test of whether Guardiola's rebooted team could break down a massed defence.

They did not do it enough in his first season at City but at the Amex Stadium, eventually, they found a way through.

City not making most of new width

New personnel meant a change to a 3-1-4-2 formation for Guardiola, something he tried during his side's recent tour of the United States.

It was hard to gauge an accurate impression of City's new shape because Brighton sat so deep in their own half and saw so little of the ball.

Even so, the signs are that City are still adjusting to it themselves.

Kyle Walker and Danilo, signed for a combined 68m over the summer, did exactly what they were supposed to do as wing-backs - constantly getting forward and overlapping down the outside.

All too often, though, their runs were ignored and City played the ball inside, where space was limited, before attacks broke down.

Width was the way forward for City, however, and moves along the right flank provided both their goals.

Dale Stephens' mistake allowed Walker to start the attack that led to Aguero scoring, while Fernandinho provided the cross that Dunk put into his own net.

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