Graham Potter 'suffering' but issues fighting message after narrow Man City loss

Graham Potter was full of praise for his Brighton players despite their narrow 1-0 loss against Premier League title favourites Man City at the Etihad Stadium
Graham Potter congratulates City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne after Brighton's narrow 1-0 loss at the EtihadGraham Potter congratulates City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne after Brighton's narrow 1-0 loss at the Etihad
Graham Potter congratulates City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne after Brighton's narrow 1-0 loss at the Etihad

Phil Foden netted his eighth of the season just before half-time – a superb low strike from the edge of the box – as City maintained their recent climb up the table with a fourth successive league win.

It should have been more comfortable for the hosts as Raheem Sterling missed a late penalty, Bernardo Silva hit the woodwork and Seagulls keeper Robert Sanchez made a number of outstanding saves.

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Potter's Albion remained in the contest and were encouraged by the performance of South Africa international striker Percy Tau who made his Premier League debut.

"We are disappointed to come away with nothing," said Potter whose team are just two points above the drop zone. "We met a top team. I’m so proud of the players. You have to suffer here, that’s how it is. We tried to attack.

"You’re always on the stretch because they have fantastic players. They’re so good, they drive you back. Our intention was to be on the front foot and play and attack when we could.

"The boys defended well when they had to and left everything on the pitch which is all you can ask.

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"You need everything to go your way if you’re going to get anything here.

"Second half was really good, really spirited. We pushed a very good team all the way."

On Tau, Potter added: "I think you got glimpses. It’s a tough game for a forward because you have to expend a lot of energy defending which takes away from the quality he has. He’s got plenty of time and we need to help him.

"I really enjoyed the performance, the spirit. They had a go. We were organised. We had an idea of what we wanted to do. There was a lot to be proud of."

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Brighton defended solidly, but the hosts still created a number of chances in the opening period and took the lead as Kevin De Bruyne found Foden outside the area but the goal owed all to the brilliance of the 20-year-old.

Foden took the pass in his stride and took out a defender with a clever first touch before steadying himself and firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

City’s relief at finally breaking through was evident, although amid renewed calls for players to curb goal celebrations, the large group hug that formed may attract scrutiny.

When the action resumed in the second half, City threatened to overwhelm the Seagulls. Riyad Mahrez shot wide and Gundogan brought another good save out of Sanchez before Silva thumped the follow-up against the woodwork.

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Sanchez saved brilliantly again from a long-range De Bruyne effort and also kept out a Joao Cancelo strike.

Remarkably, however, Brighton remained in the game. Ederson, returning after missing three games following a positive Covid-19 test, was a bystander for much of the encounter but might have been called upon had John Stones not produced a fine tackle to block Neal Maupay.

City should have killed off the game in injury time as Sanchez brought down De Bruyne but substitute Sterling blazed over from the spot.

Pep Guardiola said: "We knew how tough it would be. Brighton had a good mentality to play.

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"We had a really good first half and had chances. After we missed a really clear chance in the second half they were better.

"We need to win these sort of games. It is a good lesson for us. Every game will be like this.

"Phil Foden is 20 years old, look at the starts. The amount of games, the assists compared to the bigger stars in football.

"Can play both sides, in the middle as a false nine. He is so clever in front of goal. That is why he deserves to play."