Manchester City 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 0: Seagulls FA Cup dreams ended by City despite valiant display

Brighton & Hove Albion's first trip to Wembley in 36 years ended in disappointment as Manchester City earned a 1-0 win in this afternoon's FA Cup semi-final, despite a heroic display from Chris Hughton's side.

Saturday, 6th April 2019, 8:25 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th April 2019, 1:22 pm
Gabriel Jesus and Dale Stephens compete for the ball during the FA Cup semi-final between Brighton & Hove Albion. All pictures by PW Sporting Photography.

An early goal from Gabriel Jesus settled the tie, but Albion more than matched quadruple-chasing City as the Premier League champions underwhelmed.

Hughton made four changes from the team that were beaten 3-0 at Chelsea on Wednesday.

Martin Montoya, Bernardo, Anthony Knockaert, and topscorer Glenn Murray returned to the side, replacing Bruno, Gaetan Bong, Florin Andone, and the injured Solly March.

Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton.

Pep Guardiola made seven changes from Wednesday's 2-0 home win over Cardiff City.

As expected, Sergio Aguero wasn't named in the squad while Benjamin Mendy made his first start for City since January.

All the talk in the Brighton camp going into the game was about being defensively compact in an attempt to stifle and frustrate City. The Seagulls' resolve lasted all of four minutes.

A delicious right-flank cross from Kevin De Bruyne found the diving Gabriel Jesus in the box, who headed home to give Albion the worst start imaginable.

Kevin De Bruyne crosses for Manchester City's opening goal.

Despite the early setback, Guardiola's side had a lot of possession but their final ball was lacking as they searched for a second.

On 18 minutes Brighton had a half-chance. Knockaert's low cross was sliced over the bar by Nicholas Otamendi out for a corner but City easily dealt with the set-piece.

Two minutes later and good persistence from Bernardo saw him win possession back from De Bruyne just outside the area.

The ball fell to Davy Propper and the Dutch midfielder flashed a shot wide of Ederson's goal from 20-yards out.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh looks to win the ball from Bernardo Silva.

A tussle between Kyle Walker and Alireza Jahanbakhsh on 30 minutes saw both players go to ground as the England right-back shepherded the ball out for a goal-kick.

As both players came to their feet, Jahanbakhsh shoved the defender in the back resulting in Walker attempting to headbutt the Iranian.

Both were shown a booking for the incident but VAR was called upon to check whether Walker's yellow should be upgraded to a red.

After a lengthy but thorough check, the caution stood but the replays suggested that Walker may have gotten off lightly.

Five minutes before the break and the Seagulls fashioned a chance through Knockaert.

Bissouma's superb raking ball from the middle of the park found the Frenchman who drove at the City back-line before firing over from a tight angle.

As referee Anthony Taylor blew for half-time, Albion fans would have been heartened by the fight and intent shown by Hughton's side after a less than ideal start.

The opening of the second period saw a sustained period of Brighton pressure, ramping up the already almighty noise made by the Seagulls supporters.

A corner on 54 minutes found Shane Duffy whose knocked-down header was hacked off the line by Aymeric Laporte with Murray waiting to pounce.

But City were beginning to see more of the ball and began to press for the second.

Ilkay Gundogan fired off a dipping strike from almost 20-yards on 61 minutes but the shot was straight down the throat of Mathew Ryan.

Three minutes later and the Australian keeper produced a stunning low-down save to keep out Raheem Sterling's whipped attempt from a similar range.

It was noticeable that Guardiola was getting visibly frustrated with his team as they laboriously played the ball across Albion's penalty box without looking to play that killer pass.

Sterling then had pop from outside the D with 12 minutes to go but skipper Lewis Dunk produced a fine sliding block to see the ball go out for a corner.

With five minutes left on the clock, substitute Jose Izquierdo cut inside on his right and left fly from outside the area but it was easy for Ederson.

On 89 minutes there was a loud penalty appeal from the Albion end as Knockaert was felled after a tussle with sub John Stones in the box. However referee Taylor was unmoved and waved play on.

A Seagulls free-kick in stoppage time on the edge of the area caused havoc as Duffy was thrown up front alongside subs Florin Andone and Jurgen Locadia. The ball ping-ponged in the box but the ball was cleared and the danger alleviated.

Not long after the full-time whistle blew, signalling the end of Brighton & Hove Albion's FA Cup run.

The Seagulls supporters rose as once to applaud their heroes, as the men in blue and white produced a performance of sheer grit and determination.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker (Danilo 46), Mendy (Stones 79), Laporte, Otamendi, Gundogan, Silva, De Bruyne (Fernandinho 65), Bernardo, Sterling, Jesus. Unused: Muric, Sane, Mahrez, Foden.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo, Stephens, Propper, Bissouma (Locadia 82), Knockaert, Murray (Andone 65), Jahanbakhsh (Izquierdo 70). Unused: Button, Bruno, Bong, Burn.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Attendance: 71,521