As Julio Enciso cocked back his right leg from outside the penalty area, the intentions were clear. In a pistol-like motion the ball went a bit left, a bit right, before arching into a top corner. Manchester City‘s stand-in goalkeeper Stefan Ortega had no chance.
The strike wasn’t a surprise; it’s a weapon the midfielder clearly has in the locker. Case in point: his screamer, of an identical nature, against Chelsea last month to win 2-1.
Though the goal, more broadly, was a reminder of not just Enciso’s clear potential — at 19, he will only further rise in levels — but Brighton’s seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of South American talent.
Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Pervis Estupinan all hail from that region of the world, and have shone prodigiously this season.
All three will go for sizeable sums of money, if and when that time comes; Mac Allister, certainly, looks to be on his way at season’s end to Liverpool for a fee in the region of £60million.
Julio Enciso scored a wondergoal to secure a point for Brighton against Manchester City
The midfielder let fly from far out, with the ball dipping into Stefan Ortega’s top corner
It was a reminder of Brighton’s conveyor belt of South American talent, with Moises Caicedo (right), Alexis Mac Allister and Pervis Estupinan all hailing from that region of the world
Enciso could well join such an esteemed group in future seasons, if he continues in this vein. And for Brighton, that’s fine. You can bet they’re already charting for this now.
But it also helps when a stream of young talent in general does not seem to be running dry anytime soon.
Evan Ferguson, for starters, is already banging on that door. Loudly.
Nurturing talent can trump money for Brighton
City’s luxury to field in excess of £400million on a bench is not a new or surprising point.
Though ambitious teams such as Brighton, who will be tasting European football next season for the first time ever, being able to play weakened XIs breaks new ground.
On Wednesday night, Lewis Dunk, who received his first England call-up since November 2018, Mac Allister and Joel Veltman all started on the bench. Dunk did not even come on.
It’s a reflection of the strength in depth teams outside the ‘supposed’ top four are able to muster together.
Once upon a time, the Seagulls playing anything other than their best 11 players each game would have caused much rancour. Especially after a loss.
Brighton showed they’re ready for Europe next season after resting key players against City
On Wednesday night, the matter was taken at face value. It does help, though, when you can push the best team in the land ferociously, with a win very much a possibility on a different day.
Heartedly, the result and class on display showed that nurturing talent can trump money.
It’s often a romantic idealism but not in this case, as seen by Danny Welbeck’s free-kick striking the crossbar or Kaoru Mitoma missing out more than once from in-front of goal.
If that is not motivation for those teams with tight pockets but great ambition, hope does not exist for them.
Ruthless Pep always wants to win
Pep Guardiola bounced into the post-match press area with a sense of opulence. He had not won, and his side could well have been defeated had Brighton took their chances.
It was certainly not their most magnificent display this season. In fairness, they had just won the title four days ago. If City can’t be afforded a less-than desirable display now, when can they?
Though it was what Guardiola said between his match analysis that gave a window into what makes Man City, Man City: an unbridled will to win.
He said: ‘The game we played (was) 48 hours after we drank all the alcohol in Manchester and 48 hours later, we behaved and we showed why we were the champions against that team.’
On Haaland’s disallowed goal, he added: ‘Watch it. Watch it. If it’s a fault, every action for Erling is a fault.’
Pep Guardiola’s unbridled will to win is a small part of why City are such a ruthless machine
It did not matter that, in effect, this was a dead-rubber match for them; especially with Inter Milan in the Champions League final beckoning on June 10.
Guardiola just wants to win. No if, buts or maybes — even if you ask nicely. It is a small part of why City are such a ruthless machine.
It is a mentality forged over a period of years into a team who have stubbornly bought into it.
A clear ‘back-off’ to those of an ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ disposition.