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Manchester City's Phil Foden celebrates after scoring his second and the team's third goal during the English Premier League match against Brighton and Hove Albion. Image Credit: AFP

Brighton: Manchester City demolished Brighton 4-0 as Phil Foden’s double lifted the Premier League title chasers to within one point of leaders Arsenal on Thursday.

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Pep Guardiola’s side were in imperious mood at the Amex Stadium from the moment Kevin De Bruyne headed them into an early lead.

England forward Foden struck twice before the interval to put the result beyond doubt.

Goal drought ends

Julian Alvarez ended his goal drought after half-time to ensure injured striker Erling Haaland wasn’t missed as his absence with a muscle problem stretched to a second successive game.

Liverpool’s surprise defeat at Everton on Wednesday was a welcome boost for City in the title race after Arsenal had thrashed Chelsea 5-0 on Tuesday.

And City’s stroll on the south coast kept the destiny of the title in their hands.

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Manchester City Phil Foden (right) celebrates a goal with Kyle Walker on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

Guardiola’s team, who have a game in hand on both Arsenal and third-placed Liverpool, will be crowned champions for an unprecedented fourth successive season if they win their last five matches.

With at least four goals in each of their last four league games, City are rounding into form at just the right moment once again.

Sluggish performance

Next up for City, who are unbeaten in 18 league games, is a trip to Nottingham Forest on Sunday, while Arsenal head to Tottenham just hours earlier.

Guardiola has bemoaned the “unacceptable” fixture schedule that he believes puts his players’ health at risk, blaming the pile-up for their sluggish performance in Saturday’s 1-0 win against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals.

While City searched for the energy to propel them a step closer to the title, Brighton couldn’t have been any fresher as they played for the first time in 12 days.

But there was no sign of any weariness from the champions as they took the lead with a typically eye-catching move in the 17th minute.

Foden took possession 30 yards from goal and drifted towards the right flank, where his astute pass found Kyle Walker’s run.

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Manchester City's Phil Foden in action against Brighton & Hove Albion's Jan Paul van Hecke, Carlos Baleba and Pascal Gross. Image Credit: Reuters

City in command

Walker floated a pin-point cross into the area and De Bruyne timed his run perfectly as the Belgian’s diving header lifted the ball over Brighton keeper Jason Steele into the roof of the net.

De Bruyne’s fourth goal in his last five games marked the first time the midfielder had scored with his head in his Premier League career.

In a rare moment of concern for the City defence, Brighton nearly snatched an immediate equaliser, but Lewis Dunk’s header was too close to Ederson.

Stroking the ball around with contemptuous ease, Guardiola’s men were in complete command.

They doubled their lead in the 26th minute thanks to a stroke of luck when Foden won a dubious free-kick.

Foden didn’t waste the opportunity, unleashing a powerful shot that took a wicked deflection off Pascal Gross as it flashed past the wrong-footed Steele.

Relentless attack

The England forward’s 23rd goal in all competitions this season was followed by his 24th eight minutes later.

City’s relentless pressing panicked Brighton’s Valentin Barco into surrendering possession to Bernardo Silva and Foden seized on the loose ball, driving a clinical finish into the far corner from 12 yards.

Alvarez had scored once in his previous 16 games and Haaland’s replacement ended that barren run with his first league goal since January in the 62nd minute.

Walker lost control of the ball after breaking into the area, but his lunging tackle stopped Steele collecting it and Alvarez pounced to slot home from close range.