Six things we learned from Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City

Brighton lost their FA Cup semi-final 1-0 to Manchester City at Wembley yesterday. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Sunday, 7th April 2019, 11:38 am
Updated Sunday, 7th April 2019, 11:42 am
The incident between Kyle Walker and Alireza Jahanbakhsh late in the first half. Picture by Getty Images

VAR controversy

One of the main talking points both at half-time and after the game was the incident between Kyle Walker and Alireza Jahanbakhsh late in the first half.

Jahanbakhsh trod on Walker as he landed after the City full-back ran the ball out of play. Walker reacted angrily and put his head into Jahanbakhsh's face and pushed forward.

Anthony Knockaert takes on Raheem Sterling. Picture by Getty Images

Walker was booked by referee Anthony Taylor but the incident was reviewed by VAR to see if it should have been a red card.

After a couple of minutes, VAR official Paul Tierney decided the yellow card was sufficient but it wasn't just Albion fans who felt Walker was fortunate with the decision.

Martin Keown said: "You can see he's incensed because he's been trodden on but he just needs to be calm. He flicks his head. When you see it in real speed, he should be sent off. When you see the slow-mo, which was probably for the VAR, he gets away with it."

Alan Shearer said: 'He's fortunate that he (Jahanbakhsh) doesn't go down. 'I think he's very, very lucky not to get a red card."

Former England striker Shearer added he thinks Walker would have seen red had Jahanbakhsh gone to ground rather than remaining on his feet.

How the game would have panned out afterwards if City had gone down to ten men is anyone's guess.

Early setback

Conceding inside four minutes would have been the last thing Albion wanted before kick-off.

It was a goal of real quality as Kevin De Bruyne's outstanding low cross was met by Gabriel Jesus, who dived to head home.

There were a couple of nervy moments in the following few minutes where City threatened a second before Albion began to settle.

The Seagulls pushed for the equaliser but were unable to create a clear opportunity to get the equaliser. The closest they came was when Aymeric Laporte somehow turned the ball over his own bar just before Glenn Murray could prod it home.

The performance will give Albion confidence to take forward as they bid to earn a third successive season in the Premier League.

Reason to be proud

Brighton fans remained in their number at the final whistle to applaud the Seagulls players who gave their all.

Take away the Premier League game away to Tottenham last season, it was Albion's first real trip to Wembley since the 1991 play-off final defeat to Notts County.

Seagulls fans arrived early to take in the day and Albion boss Chris Hughton afterwards said he was proud of the performance and also hailed the Brighton fans' support.

Albion have progressed immensely since Tony Bloom took over as chairman ten years ago when the club were playing in League One at Withdean.

The focus in the short team is to remain in the Premier League this season. How much further Brighton can go in the coming years, only time will tell but everything is in place for a successful future.

Harsh post-match reaction?

Jermaine Jenas said afterwards that Brighton missed an opportunity because of how poor Manchester City were.

The former England international said: "Brighton can bring you down to their level sometimes by sitting off.

"You can see that the Brighton fans are very proud of their team, but watching them I feel they've missed an opportunity here because I've never seen City so poor and so sloppy in certain parts of their game.

"I think if Brighton gambled a bit more, especially in that second half, they might be going into extra-time, they might have nicked a win. Who knows?"

Part of the reason City weren't at their best was because of the way Albion set up and how the players stuck to the game plan.

The Seagulls can't go out and attack City as they would get torn apart with the quality and pace of City's counter-attacks.

It's also easy to forget this is just Albion's second season in the Premier League. Not many teams will come up from the Championship and be in an FA Cup semi-final less than two years later.

Manchester City spent more on Riyad Mahrez - an unused subsitute - than Albion spent on all their signings last summer. It shows the huge gulf between the clubs but Brighton gave City a game and with a bit more luck - with the VAR decision and Aymeric Laporte's goal-line clearance - may have forced extra-time or won on another day.

Knockaert on song

Albion winger Anthony Knockaert was named the sponsor's man of the match and was a constant thorn in Manchester City's side at Wembley.

The Frenchman was his usual energetic self and was full of running throughout. A couple of set-piece deliveries caused City's defence problems and Knockaert will be key to the Seagulls' hopes of staying in the Premier League if he can maintain this form.

Knockaert did not start a Premier League game from the middle of December to the end of February but now appears to be back to his best.

Focus on the Premier League

While the FA Cup has been a nice distraction for Albion's players and fans, the focus is now firmly on remaining in the Premier League.

Back-to-back home games are coming up against Bournemouth and Cardiff and they will play a huge part in how the season pans out for Brighton.

Six points - or even four - will take Albion to the brink of safety but failure to win either game will leave Brighton nervously looking ahead to the rest of the season.

Following the two home matches, Albion have away games at Wolves, Tottenham and Arsenal and home games with Newcastle and Manchester City. That run-in just shows why the two upcoming games at the Amex are so vital.