Monday 16 September 2019

Irish teenager Aaron Connolly makes Premier League debut but Sergio Aguero and Manchester City prove too strong

Manchester City 4 Brighton 0

Brighton & Hove Albion's Aaron Connolly (right) and Manchester City's Fernandinho
Brighton & Hove Albion's Aaron Connolly (right) and Manchester City's Fernandinho

Andy Hampson

Ireland teenager Aaron Connolly was handed his Brighton debut as Kevin De Bruyne netted after 68 seconds and Sergio Aguero struck twice as champions Manchester City strolled to a comprehensive 4-0 victory.

19-year-old Connolly scored on his Brighton debut in the League Cup earlier this week and was rewarded by coming on for Neal Maupay in the 67th minute against the champions today.

But Aguero, who has now scored five in four Premier League games this season, also set up City's fourth for substitute Bernardo Silva in a one-sided encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

The only downside for City was the loss of Aymeric Laporte with a serious-looking knee injury in the first half.

The defender, a day after being named as the best left-sided centre-back in the world by manager Pep Guardiola, was injured in a challenge on Adam Webster.

Laporte had been hopeful of making his France debut in the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra, but that now looks in doubt.

City have already lost Leroy Sane to a long-term knee injury this season and will be anxious Laporte's problem is not as bad.

The injury took the shine off an otherwise fine afternoon. City got off to a flying start as Oleksandr Zinchenko played in David Silva and the Spaniard's cutback was tapped in by De Bruyne with barely a minute played.

With that head start secured, City then had the luxury of controlling the rest of the game at the tempo they desired. They did not need top gear as they claimed most of the possession and patiently carved out further chances.

Aguero dragged a shot wide, Riyad Mahrez had an effort blocked and De Bruyne missed the target.

Brighton, to their credit, tried to play fluid football when they did get the ball but their attacks amounted to little. Solly March curled a shot well over and Leandro Trossard delayed an attempt too long.

City should have doubled their lead when Raheem Sterling pulled the ball back for David Silva but the veteran surprisingly poked wide from in front of goal.

Laporte's afternoon came to a premature end as Webster, making his Premier League debut, launched a rare Brighton charge. The Frenchman came across to cut off the run but banged his knee in the tackle and went down in agony. He left the field on a stretcher and, with John Stones still unavailable, Fernandinho was pressed into makeshift defensive action.

City's flow was not affected and the second goal arrived three minutes before the break. Mahrez played in De Bruyne with a deft back-heel and the Belgian's ball was seized upon by Aguero, who took two defence-fooling touches before smashing emphatically past Mat Ryan.

Trossard might have pulled one back early in the second half but he failed to make clean contact and Fernandinho headed away.

Aguero then gave another lesson in finishing as he curled home a sublime third for City from the edge of the area after some neat interplay between Zinchenko and David Silva.

City were completely at ease for the remainder of the game and De Bruyne and Aguero volleyed over before Bernardo Silva came off the bench to wrap up the scoring 11 minutes from time.

Bernardo had only been on the field a matter of seconds after replacing namesake David when he was set up by Aguero and he fired low into the far corner.

PA Media

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