Guardiola seeks Man City improvement for Champions League final

Filed on May 19, 2021
Brighton's Adam Webster (centre) scores his team's second goal during the Premier League match against Manchester City. (AFP)

City played 80 minutes with 10 men after Joao Cancelo was sent off after a poor attempt to control the ball

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his team will have to improve heading into this month's Champions League final against Chelsea after they were beaten 3-2 defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday.

Brighton scored three times in the second half to fight back from two goals down and beat City after the Premier League champions had Joao Cancelo sent off early on.

City will lift the league trophy following Sunday's match with Everton before taking on Chelsea — who have already beaten them in the league and the FA Cup semifinals — in the title clash of Europe's elite club competition on May 29.

"Eleven against 11 against Brighton is tough, 11 against 10 is difficult so we have to improve for the final," Guardiola told reporters.

"Unfortunately after 2-0, we conceded a goal so quick and after they push a lot, we were more tired and couldn't keep the ball as much as possible, we could not do it and unfortunately we lost the game.

"On Sunday, with our people, we're going to lift the Premier League trophy. And after we're going to go for the final of the Champions League. I'm concerned because this is the final of the Champions League, because the opponent is so tough."

Guardiola said City were optimistic about a muscle injury suffered by goalscorer Ilkay Gundogan in the second half. The German was substituted as a precaution.

"The doctor is quite optimistic," Guardiola added. "The problem is a kick and he was running in the second half with disruption and I didn't want to take a risk."

Gundogan opened the scoring with a second-minute header against Brighton but was forced to leave the action in the 56th minute.

City played 80 minutes with 10 men after Joao Cancelo was sent off after a poor attempt to control the ball led him to clatter into Danny Welbeck.

Gundogan struck in the second minute, heading home a superb cross from Riyad Mahrez to briefly silence just under 8,000 Brighton fans who had been allowed to return to the stands following over a year away due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cancelo saw red in the 10th minute for a clumsy challenge on Danny Welbeck, but City struck again three minutes into the second half as Phil Foden won the ball inside his own half and out-sprinted the Brighton defence before slotting home his 15th goal of the season in all competitions.

Brighton’s amazing comeback began almost immediately, with substitute Leandro Trossard dribbling across the box and drilling the ball in at the far post as the Seagulls began to make the most of their numerical advantage.

Adam Webster drew them level in the 72nd minute with a towering header before Dan Burn notched the winner four minutes later, scooping the ball into the net after his initial effort was blocked.

Brighton survived a late VAR check following Adam Lallana’s challenge in the box on Gabriel Jesus and a late City onslaught to secure a win that lifts Graham Potter’s side to 15th spot in the table on 41 points.

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