10-man Manchester City suffered a second-half collapse, as Brighton and Hove Albion came from behind to run out 3-2 winners on an action-packed evening at the Amex.
A much-changed City side came out on top in an enthralling 4-3 win over Newcastle United at the weekend, yet Pep Guardiola reverted back to his usual tried and tested first choice starting XI for the trip to Brighton, the former Barcelona boss looking to build momentum ahead of the upcoming Champions League final.
The recently crowned champions made the perfect start in front of a noisy home support, Ilkay Gundogan continuing his fine goalscoring campaign with a well-taken header at the back post inside two minutes, following a typically wicked ball-in from Riyad Mahrez.
After that quick-fire opening, the visitors were then dealt a blow just a few moments later, full-back Joao Cancelo dismissed after having been adjudged to have denied Danny Welbeck a clear goalscoring opportunity.
The Seagulls grew into the game with the man advantage, yet without really testing City stopper Ederson, before the champions extended their lead after the break courtesy of a sublime Phil Foden goal. After picking the ball up inside his own-half, the England international surged past Ben White down the left, before racing into the penalty area and firing past a helpless Robert Sanchez.
Despite that setback, Graham Potter’s men responded well to hit back just three minutes later, Leandro Trossard pouncing on a poor pass from Rodri and driving at the City defence, the Belgian brilliantly working space for himself in the box to fire his side back into the game.
Buoyed by that goal, a dominant spell saw the hosts deservedly draw level, Adam Webster heading home superbly from a Pascal Gros cross. A remarkable turnaround was then complete soon after through unlikely scorer Dan Burn, the defender just about managing to scramble the ball home for his first ever Premier League goal.
With Brighton hanging on for the win, it ensured City would slip to just their sixth league defeat of the season, although Guardiola spoke of his pride at his title-winning side’s performance throughout the campaign.
“We’re the champions. In four or five days we lift the trophy and prepare for the final,” Guardiola told his post-match press conference.
“I am concerned because it’s a Champions League final and the opponent is so tough.
“To play 80 minutes v 11 especially against Brighton with high pressing and defending, it’s always difficult.
“We knew it but we will react quite well. We know these kinds of years we did it ourselves, nobody gave us anything. I am so proud of the team, the Premier League is so difficult, we will prepare as best as possible for the final.
“I am concerned about trying to win but you can’t imagine how happy we are to play this game.”
City will wrap up their triumphant league campaign at home to Everton on the final day, before taking on Chelsea in the Champions League final on 29 May.