Manchester City hit back from successive defeats to secure a much-needed 2-1 victory over a dangerous Brighton side at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s team had slipped from the top of the table after successive defeats to Wolves and Arsenal before the international break but found some form again to beat the Seagulls.
Julian Alvarez smashed the hosts ahead after just seven minutes from Jeremy Doku’s cutback before Erling Haaland made it two with a left-footed strike from 18 yards. Doku was a constant menace down the left wing and gave veteran James Milner a torrid time.
A goal from Barcelona loan signing Ansu Fati for the visitors set up a nervy finish, but City held on despite a late red card for Manuel Akanji.
“Against Brighton it’s impossible to control the game for 90, 95 minutes – no team in the world can do that,” said City manager Pep Guardiola. “I’m surprised that we did it for 55, 60 minutes.
“We played an exceptional first half. We had more chances, we were aggressive in the link with the strikers.
“In the second half they closed the space. They are really good and when they have the ball it is almost impossible to take it. We suffered for 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes and then there was a period at the end of the game as well.
“After two defeats the performance was important but I give credit to Roberto (De Zerbi). When you see their games, his team is exceptional. They have a lot of injuries and that’s why I have pride in the team for the victory.”
Elsewhere, Luton showed their battling qualities as they recovered from 2-0 down to grab a 2-2 draw against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
The hosts led through a Chris Wood brace, but the Hatters hit back, with Chiedozie Ogbene giving them hope before Elijah Adebayo blasted in an equaliser.
There was further late drama as Wood thought he had scored what would have been his hat-trick goal, but it was disallowed for offside.
Meanwhile, Brentford proved too good for Burnley as they beat the Clarets 3-0 in west London.
Yoane Wissa’s third league goal of the season gave Brentford the lead after 25 minutes and Bryan Mbeumo added the Bees’ second with a sublime curling effort from the edge of the box.
Connor Roberts’ dismissal in the 78th minute made it an uphill task for Burnley to get back into the game and a stunning strike from Saman Ghoddos in the 87th minute put the result beyond doubt.
A well-taken goal by Sasa Kalajdzic helped Wolves beat Bournemouth 2-1 and ensure a happy return for their manager Gary O’Neil to the Vitality Stadium.
O’Neil was dismissed in the summer, with Andoni Iraola brought in to replace him, and his new club fell behind to a Dominic Solanke goal in the 17th minute.
However, Wolves hit back as Matheus Cunha fired in an equaliser early in the second period and the Cherries then had Lewis Cook sent off for an apparent headbutt on Hwang Hee-chan.
The game appeared to be heading towards a draw before Austria international Kalajdzic’s calm finish from Hwang’s pass with two minutes of regular time remaining.