Manchester City’s incredible season continued as Pep Guardiola’s side set a new Premier League points record with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Captained by Yaya Toure in his final home game as a City player, the champions made light work of Chirs Hughton’s side to move onto an unprecedented 97 points with their 31st league win of the season, surpassing Chelsea’s record from 2016-17.
It was not all plain sailing for City – Danilo’s 16th minute opener, superbly crafted by the exceptional Leroy Sane, was cancelled out by Leonardo Ulloa following Claudio Bravo’s error.
Bernardo Silva’s effort shortly after the half hour restored City’s lead, though, moving Guardiola’s side onto 104 goals in the process – yet another Premier League record.
More calamitous goalkeeping from Bravo threatened to set City back again early in the second half, but Fernandinho’s strike 18 minutes from time made sure of the win.
That set up the perfect chance to give Toure a fitting send-off – the veteran making way to a standing ovation as City moved one win away from claiming 100 points.
Most points in a #PL season – 97
Most wins in a #PL season – 31
Most goals in a #PL season – 105
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 9, 2018
Toure was the architect of City’s first clear opportunity with a crisp pass out to the right where Silva and Fernandinho combined to tee up Ilkay Gundogan, whose goal-bound shot was blocked superbly by Shane Duffy.
City did not have to wait much longer to go ahead, Sane taking matters into his own hands with a surging run and precise pass into Danilo, who kept his composure to slot home.
The champions’ lead lasted just four minutes, however. Davy Propper easily got the better of an aimless Bravo to loft a cross into the centre, where Ulloa headed into an empty net.
Making his first league start of the season, Toure turned on the style with a clever cutback to Gabriel Jesus as City looked to restore their lead, only for the striker to slice wide.
Silva made no such mistake from City’s next chance, though, setting himself brilliantly from Sane’s cross before tucking a terrific finish into the bottom-right corner.
Bravo failed to cover himself in glory once more after the restart, spilling Jose Izquierdo’s cross-cum-shot into a dangerous area from where Brighton failed to take advantage.
City soon had their third, Sane making the most of dreadful defending to tee up Fernandinho, who duly swept home from the edge of the area.
4 – Leroy Sane is the fourth player to have registered a hat-trick of assists in a Premier League match this season, and third for Man City (Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Henrikh Mkhitaryan). Unselfish.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 9, 2018
Toure fluffed the chance to mark his final home appearance with a goal by lofting a tame effort straight to Mat Ryan, though it took little away from his final goodbye to the Etihad Stadium crowd in the 86th minute.
Danilo was denied a second by the woodwork, but the champions will finish the season in emphatic fashion if they move onto a century of points against Southampton on Sunday.
Key Opta stats:
– Manchester City equalled the all-time English top-flight record for most wins in a single campaign (31, Tottenham in 1960-61).
– City have won 97 points in 2017-18, the most by a Premier League team in a single season. Furthermore, their 97 points is only bettered in the English top flight by Liverpool’s haul of 98 in 1978-79 (adjusted to three points for a win).
– Leonardo Ulloa scored his first league goal for Brighton in 1467 days, last netting for the Seagulls against Nottingham Forest in May 2014.
– Leroy Sane has been directly involved in more league goals this season than any other German player in Europe’s big five divisions (10 goals, 15 assists).
– Yaya Toure started a Premier League game as captain for Manchester City for the first time since April 2016 (versus Stoke City).