Manchester City has set the new single-season standard for the Premier League.
Manchester City broke three Premier League records with a 3-1 victory over Brighton on Wednesday night. A hat trick of assists from Leroy Sane handed goals to Danilo, Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho as Pep Guardiola’s side became the Premier League’s all-time highest scoring team in a single season. The win also set a new standard for victories and total points for a single campaign.
With nothing competitively to play for, for either team, the match very much had the feel of a testimonial for Yaya Toure, who captained City in his final home game for the club. Oddly enough, Brighton are one of the teams linked with a move for the veteran Ivorian.
Guardiola had rung the changes for City after a disappointing draw with Huddersfield at the weekend. Eight new faces came into the starting lineup – including Toure. As for Brighton, Chris Hughton made only one change from their 1-0 victory over Manchester United – Leonardo Ulloa coming in for Glen Murray.
The opening 10 minutes started with the home side enjoying the lion’s share of possession – as expected – with the most entertainment coming through the home side’s constant demand that Toure shot every time he picked up the ball in Brighton’s heart.
The first real opportunity came after eight minutes. A cut back ball found Ilkay Gundogan 10 yards out in front of goal; though his effort was well blocked by Brighton’s Lewis Dunk.
The first goal of the game arrived through Danilo on 15 minutes. In a swift counter attack from deep in their own half, Leroy Sane found himself driving through the heart of Brighton’s midfield before slotting the Brazilian in one on one with Matthew Ryan. The fullback looked a seasoned finisher with his cool effort into the bottom left corner.
But the lead didn’t last long.
Determined to spoil Toure’s party, Brighton immediately hit back through Ulloa. In a moment of madness, City keeper Claudio Bravo rushed off his line to meet the oncoming Davy Propper; with the Chilean failing to clear the ball, Propper picked out Ulloa with a ball into the six yard area, heading into an empty net.
The Citizens soon restored their lead after a phase of more dominance. Bernardo Silva picked up a loose ball just inside the box on 36 minutes; taking a touch to control, the Portuguese wide man drilled a low effort at Ryan’s near post, beating the Brighton stopper to send his side back in front.
As the half continued, the lack of importance of the match began to show. City, while still dominant on the ball, dropped their intensity in possession, and Brighton did little to spark another equalizer.
It took a while for the second half to warm up, but the 58th minute left Brighton kicking themselves after failing to equalize. Confusion in the City box saw the ball fall to Jose Izquierdo. The Colombian didn’t have much time to react, but from eight yards out with the whole goal to aim for, the attacked stabbed at the ball – sending it over the bar and giving Bravo a huge sigh of relief.
The rest of the half continued to roll on in a fashion that City fans hadn’t been used to all season. Though the home outfit continued to hold the ball, there seemed a lack of impetus from Guardiola’s men, as if they were on the beach with the score as it was leaving them with the Premier League record points total and highest amount of goals scored.
That was, until Fernandinho added to the score line on 71 minutes. A clever quick corner from Gundogan rolled the ball to Sane inside the box. The German cut the ball back to a waiting Fernandinho, whose first time effort left Ryan rooted to the spot. 3-1.
Yaya Toure almost got the goal that seemed destined to mark the occasion ten minutes from time. Link up play with Sane – who had done nothing but pull strings all game long – found the Ivorian in a shooting position inside the box. His effort, unfortunately, fell straight to Ryan.
Five minutes later the testimonial rounded off with Toure’s substitution. The Ivorian came off to a huge applause from the home fans; a player that defines their recent history in a nutshell.