Manager Pep Guardiola says Manchester City must improve for the UEFA Champions League final after Brighton came back to beat his 10-man side in the Premier League at Amex Stadium.
Newly-crowned Premier League champions City, who face Chelsea in the Champions League final on 29th May, blew a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 on an enthralling evening on England’s south coast.
Ilkay Gundogan silenced the home support in the second minute itself as the Cityzens took the lead, but City were down to 10 men after just nine minutes when Joao Cancelo was brought down Danny Welbeck as the last man, who was goal side of the defender.
Phil Foden’s superb solo effort put the visitors 2-0 up – but Belgian forward Leandro Trossard who was called up to Belgium’s Euro 2020 squad a few days back, justified the decision as he gave Brighton hope with a cool close-range finish.
Brighton went on to exploit the one-man advantage they had as they threatened City throughout.
Adam Webster found the equaliser in the 72nd minute, heading home Pascal Gross’ cross beautifully and then, just 4 minutes later, Dan Burn found the winner to complete an unbelievable comeback for the Seagulls in what has been a decent season for Graham Potter’s side.
Burn followed up his own blocked shot to steer the rebound into the corner of the net to secure the 3 points that sees them move up to 15th in the league table with a game to go.
“11 against 11 against Brighton is tough, 11 against 10 is difficult so we have to improve for the final,” said Guardiola.
“Unfortunately after 0-2, we conceded a goal so quick(ly) and after they push a lot, we were more tired and could not keep the ball as much as possible – we could not do it and unfortunately we lost the game.
“On Sunday, with our people, we are going to lift the [Premier League] trophy. And after we are going to go for the final of the Champions League.
“I am concerned because this is the final of the Champions League because the opponent is so tough.”
City lost Gundogan to injury in the second half, but Guardiola seemed upbeat about the German midfielder’s fitness after the game.
“We are going to check tomorrow,” said the manager of the German, who had netted an impressive 17th goal of the season.
“The doctor is quite optimistic. The problem is a kick and he was running in the second half with disruption and I didn’t want to take a risk.”
This was Brighton’s first win over Man City since April 1989.
“It was an emotional feeling in the stadium and I thought the players gave a top performance which the crowd appreciated,” Potter said. “The supporters were fantastic and it was a great game.
“Obviously we benefited when they went down to 10 men so early, but we still had to play well and with the personality that we did.
“We have improved and we have a young team that can get better and better.
“I am really pleased for the players. They have had a tough year, they have stuck at it and it’s nice to enjoy a fantastic victory with our supporters and get to 41 points.”
This loss to Brighton ends City’s record-breaking runs of 12 successive away league victories and a 23-match unbeaten run away from home in all competitions.
The final round of fixtures sees Man City host Everton as they will lift the Premier League trophy in front of the Manchester faithful, while Brighton travel to Arsenal in North London as the Gunners will look to finish on a high.