Oleksandr Zinchenko insists Manchester City will learn lessons from their shock defeat at Brighton as they prepare to lift the Premier League trophy ahead of the club’s maiden Champions League final.
Pep Guardiola’s side suffered a second-half capitulation at a raucous Amex Stadium, surrendering a two-goal advantage to lose 3-2.
City, who played for 80 minutes with 10 men on the south coast due to the costly dismissal of Joao Cancelo, will be crowned champions following Sunday’s game at home to Everton before travelling to Portugal to face top-flight rivals Chelsea in the biggest game in European club football.
City full-back Zinchenko played the full 90 minutes in Sussex and believes the chastening experience can be beneficial for future challenges.
“It was a tough game for us. The result was not what we wanted,” the Ukraine international told City’s website.
“I think when we were leading 2-0 we should defend a bit better. We should be more focused.
“But we’re going to learn from this game. We still have one more game in the Premier League, so we have to prepare as best as we can for the Champions League final.
“It’s always difficult to play with one player less. All game it’s a bit tough but still, it’s a good test for us and we have to take the best from it and improve ourselves because it can happen.”
A difficult evening for the visitors was compounded by stand-in skipper Ilkay Gundogan limping off in the second half, although Guardiola said the withdrawal was a precautionary measure.
City have a handful of fitness concerns ahead of facing Chelsea in Porto a week on Saturday.
Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero were absent on Tuesday night due to not being fully fit, while Kevin De Bruyne was an unused substitute following two games out with a muscle injury.
Gundogan headed City ahead inside two minutes against the Seagulls and, after Cancelo was dismissed for denying Danny Welbeck a goal-scoring opportunity, Phil Foden doubled the advantage early in the second period with a fine solo goal.
But Brighton – backed by almost 8,000 exuberant fans – came roaring back to secure a first league win over their opponents in 32 years thanks to goals from Leandro Trossard, Adam Webster and Dan Burn.
Amid the jubilation, there was a flashpoint at full-time as Guardiola and his backroom staff become embroiled in a heated disagreement with Albion head coach Graham Potter.
Potter – who has previously received lavish praise from Guardiola – apologised for the incident, saying “it wasn’t my finest hour”.
“With the first (Brighton) goal, I was a bit emotional,” he said.
“It wasn’t my finest hour, I have to apologise for that. It wasn’t meant with any intent or anything against anybody, it was an emotional response from me, but it wasn’t a good one, so I apologise to them.
“Like I said, no offence meant from my perspective but, again, I understand it wasn’t a nice moment.”