Phil Foden's pinpoint strike moments before half-time gave Manchester City a 1-0 win over Brighton to move the hosts up to third in the Premier League.
Foden slotted inside Robert Sanchez's near post from Kevin De Bruyne's pass with a minute remaining of an opening period in which the hosts had been largely held off by their lowly visitors.
Riyad Mahrez should have doubled the advantage after half-time but fired wide, before Bernardo Silva struck the post within minutes as City briefly threatened to run away with victory.
Brighton continued to rally but saw their hopes of a late draw appear to take a blow when De Bruyne was brought down by Sanchez in the area in injury time. Substitute Raheem Sterling stepped up from 12 yards but blazed his penalty well over the bar.
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Manchester City: Ederson (7), Cancelo (6), Stones (7), Dias (7), Zinchenko (6), Gundogan (7), Rodri (7), Silva (6), Mahrez (6), De Bruyne (7), Foden (8).
Subs: Jesus (6), Sterling (5).
Brighton: Sanchez (7), Burn (6), Webster (7), Dunk (6), Veltman (6), Propper (6), White (7), Bernardo (7), Mac Allister (7), Tau (7), Trossard (6).
Subs: Maupay (5), March (6), Khadra (n/a).
Man of the match: Phil Foden
Foden magic proves the difference for City
Less than 24 hours after their nearest neighbours had gone three points clear at the top of the Premier League table, City were given a perfect chance to at least cut the deficit to the top against a Brighton side with one league win since September.
But the visitors' league position has often belied them, as proved the case in the first half at the Etihad, where only two De Bruyne efforts, both pulling smart saves out of Sanchez, looked like giving the hosts the lead. Leandro Trossard fired wide after a good run as Brighton occasionally threatened on the break.
It was in keeping with the opening period that City's goal, moments before the break, came somewhat out of nothing, with De Bruyne finding Foden to turn away from two defenders on the edge of the box before slotting a pinpoint low effort beyond a despairing Sanchez at his near post.
City continued their possessional dominance after half-time but Brighton still had reason to believe they could snatch something from the game given their own expansive style, and 10 minutes in Davy Propper finally pulled a save out of the returning Ederson from a half-cleared corner.
Brighton soon found themselves hanging on through a flurry of City attacks, with Mahrez found unmarked by a clipped free-kick before firing wide, and Silva firing against the post on the rebound from an Ilkay Gundogan effort.
The Seagulls continued to press but wasted their height advantage from a number of late corners. Sterling was then handed the chance to double the lead in the final minute after Sanchez hauled down De Bruyne - but he blasted well over.
What the managers said...
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: "I've said many times about Phil [Foden], looking at his age, number of games, number of goals, number of assists - that speaks for itself.
"I'm delighted, it was another good performance, he's a guy who has a special instinct close to the goal. He deserves to play. His standards are higher, so he deserves to play. I try to judge the team in the recent past, in the day-by-day, and I have a feeling he lives his life 24 hours to play football."
Brighton manager Graham Potter: "We're disappointed to come away with nothing, in any game you want to get something from the match but we were playing against a top team and our players gave everything, they left everything on the pitch.
"That's all you can ask for, if the opponents are better on the day, that's how it is. We had great personality, great quality, when we had the chance, we defended for our lives, and I'm really proud of them."
Man of the match - Phil Foden
It remains a mystery how Phil Foden does not have more than seven Premier League starts this season, because the 'Stockport Iniesta' is now City's top scorer in all competitions, and secured victory with the kind of strike not many of his team-mates could have managed.
Foden was his usual creative self out wide and played some lovely link-up against a dogged Brighton defence.
- Man City have won their last four Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 11 in the competition (W4 D5 L2).
- Brighton are without a win in nine Premier League games, the longest current run in the competition (D5 L4).
- No side have kept more Premier League clean sheets this season than Manchester City (8), with the Citizens also having the fewest goals conceded so far this term (13).
- Manchester City have won all seven of their Premier League meetings with Brighton, by an aggregate score of 21-2.
- Manchester City have missed seven penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season, more than any other side. Three of these have been missed by Raheem Sterling.
- Phil Foden scored his eighth goal of the season in all competitions, more than any other Manchester City player.
- Man City's Kevin De Bruyne provided his 14th assist of the season in all competitions - no Premier League player has more.
Manchester City have another home game up next with Crystal Palace visiting the Etihad Stadium on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm: Kick-off at 7.15pm.
Brighton travel to Leeds on Saturday, also live on Sky Sports Premier League from 2.30pm; Kick-off at 3pm.