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Brighton 0 – 1 Manchester City
by James Nalton
MANCHESTER CITY are through to the FA Cup final and will play at Wembley for the fifth time this season after defeating Brighton & Hove Albion in Saturday’s semi.
City’s multiple visits to the national stadium reflect their recent domestic success but it’s coming at a cost to their fans, the most dedicated of whom have had to budget for regular trips to the capital as well as across Europe.
There were blocks of empty seats in the City end which is unsurprising given the cost of travel to London from Manchester, the cost of tickets, and the regularity with which their club finds itself in these situations.
The game wasn’t the walk in Wembley Park many had expected for Pep Guardiola’s side. Brighton produced an admirable display despite going a goal down within the first five minutes.
Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in those opening stages created the goal, and the delivery was a moment of quality which few players can produce.
These moments haven’t been as regular from the boot of De Bruyne this season due to injury problems, but it was enough to win this game as Gabriel Jesus sneaked in at the far post behind Shane Duffy, scoring with a well taken diving header.
The City fans who had made the trip were outnumbered by the enthusiastic Brighton following, but tried to match their volume in what turned into an intense and occasionally confrontational game.
One flashpoint saw Kyle Walker move his head towards Alireza Jahanbakhsh but escape without a red card even after consultation with VAR.
Brighton enjoyed a period of pressure at the start of the second half, but were unable to create any clear chances. That they also limited City to so few was to their credit.
“I’m struggling to think of a real chance they had, a real clear chance,” said Seagulls manager Chris Hughton
“I don’t think that will have happened to them many times this season.
“We are happy for the supporters who were brilliant. You can see by how many have turned up what it means to them.”
For the Brighton fans it was a one-off, a special occasion, and they relished it. For City fans, success is coming at a price not all of them can afford.
Guardiola described a quadruple as impossible, but it’s also turning out to be financially impossible for many fans.
They will return to London tomorrow for a Champions League clash with Tottenham, while Brighton’s focus returns to remaining in the Premier League and a game against Bournemouth on Saturday.
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