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De Bruyne return timely for City as Belgian’s class tells at Wembley

The Belgian’s perfect cross set up the only goal of the FA Cup semi-final.

Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus (centre) scores his side’s first goal of the game during the FA Cup semi final match at Wembley Stadium, London.
Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus (centre) scores his side’s first goal of the game during the FA Cup semi final match at Wembley Stadium, London.

Kevin De Bruyne helped keep Manchester City’s quadruple hope alive as Brighton were overcome in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.

Here, Press Association Sport’s Simon Peach takes a look at how the Belgium international got on in the 1-0 win at Wembley.

Fitness

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Kevin De Bruyne played his first 90 minutes since February in the win over Cardiff (Martin Rickett/PA)

This has been a frustrating season for De Bruyne. The star as Pep Guardiola’s men won the Premier League in record-breaking fashion last term, injury has made this a stop-start campaign for the attacking midfielder. Wednesday’s 2-0 win against Cardiff was the first time since February 27 that De Bruyne managed to complete 90 minutes and the Belgian did enough to retain his place in the capital.

Link-up play

De Bruyne helped City fly out of the blocks against Brighton. Just four minutes had passed when Aymeric Laporte’s diagonal ball was cushioned back by Bernardo Silva to the 27-year-old. Displaying the skill and vision that puts him among the world’s best midfielders, De Bruyne whipped in an exceptional cross from the right that put Gabriel Jesus behind the Albion back line to head home from six yards. It was an exceptional assist and the Belgian tried a few more defence-splitting balls on an afternoon when he was typically smart, skilful and composed in possession.

Overall

De Bruyne’s early assist was key as City emerged victorious from this tricky semi-final. This was not a spectacle that the neutral would have enjoyed, with the fourth-minute goal arguably the only eye-catching moment of quality. De Bruyne did the ugly stuff well, too, tracking back and digging in defensively when Brighton threatened but was withdrawn in the 65th minute. Guardiola turned to Fernandinho to help see out the game several minutes after the Belgian was on the end of a rough challenge. But De Bruyne made a telling impact and his return to form is a welcome boost at a key point of the season.

PA

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