Yaya Toure said his final farewells to Manchester City on a record-breaking night for the club.
City’s remarkable season now includes the records for most goals (104), most points (97), most wins (31) and most consecutive victories (18) in a single season after a comfortable victory over Brighton at the Etihad Stadium. There is still the potential to become the first team to reach a century of points in a single season with a win at Southampton on Sunday.
But the final home match of the season was all about Toure, who was playing his final game after eight years of unprecedented success for the club.
Toure’s deal was up last season but he convinced Pep Guardiola to give him a new deal after a brilliant second half of the season and it’s no disgrace that he couldn’t crowbar his way into this City side in a record-breaking season although his quality was still there to see. Metronomic passing, strength and skill and one brilliant driving run that created an opportunity for Gabriel Jesus that the Brazilian fired into the side netting.
City fans were baying to cap the evening with a goal, shouting for him to shoot at every opportunity but he resisted the urge until the 80th minute when he squeezed in a shot that was straight at Matthew Ryan. He left the pitch with five minutes remaining with every player rushing over to give him a hug as he left the pitch.
Even with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Ederson resting up on the bench of this summer’s World Cup, Guardiola’s ‘B’ team were too strong for the Seagulls.
PEP: I feel good. We had to maintain our level to break that record. We had to maintain our intensity. 97 points, a lot of goals, lot of wins, that is a consequence of the season we have done. We want 100 point and finish this almost perfect season in the PL. #mancity— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 9, 2018
City’s 16th-minute opener was all about pace and Toure, who turns 35 this week, hasn’t got the turn of speed that he once had To be fair, no one else in England can keep up with Leroy Sane, officially the league’s quickest player.
The left winger dashed straight through the centre of Brighton’s midfield to put Danilo through and the Brazilian kept his cool for a record-equalling 103rd goal of the season.
Brighton were surprisingly level four minutes later. Bravo, another making his first start of the season, with a characteristic error which showed why Guardiola was right to jettison him as his first choice after just one campaign.
The Chilean was caught in no man’s land as Davy Propper raced onto a throughball, and after a half-hearted challenge from Bravo, was able to squeeze in a cross for Leonardo Ulloa to head into an empty net.
City’s second came in the 34th minute with Sane again the contributor. His pull back was missed by Jesus, but fell to Bernardo, who drilled in the loose ball at Ryan’s near post.
Brighton almost grabbed another equaliser on the hour. Bravo spilled another cross and the ball eventually dropped to Anthony Knockaert, who lashed his shot over the bar from 10 yards.
But City finally killed off the game in the 73rd minute when they caught the visitors napping with a quickly-taken short corner that Fernandinho swiped in from the edge of the box.
Sane again providing the assist taking it to a hat-trick for the night and equalling De Bruyne’s tally of 15 — the most in the Premier League this season.
Bravo 5, Danilo 8, Kompany 7, Laporte 7, Zinchenko 6 (Mendy 76, 5), Toure 7 (Nmecha 85), Fernandinho 7, Gundogan 6, Sane 8, Jesus 6 (Brahim 82), B Silva 7.
Ryan 6, Bruno 6, Dunk 6, Duffy 6, Bong 6, Gross 6 (Kayal 73, 5), Stephens 7, Propper 7, Izquierdo 6 (March 78, 4), Ulloa 7 (Locadia 73, 5), Knockaert 7.