A moment of brilliance by Phil Foden was the difference between the two sides as City overcame a resilient Brighton to win 1-0.
Phil Foden broke the deadlock just before half-time after collecting Kevin de Bruyne’s pass and firing into the bottom corner.
The hosts had several opportunities to extend their lead, Riyad Mahrez shooting just wide and Ilkay Gundogan seeing an effort saved by Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.
Raheem Sterling should have put the game out of sight after Sanchez had fouled De Bruyne, giving away a penalty in injury time.
Brighton were given a lifeline when Sterling blasted the penalty way over the bar. The Seagulls couldn’t take advantage of this however and City saw out the game to take all three points.
The Seagulls defended well and tried to hit the hosts on the counter attack. Alexis Mac Allister had perhaps the best chance to equalise but shot over the top about halfway through the second half.
Brighton have now not won in nine league matches and are just two points ahead of 18th-placed Fulham, who have two games in hand.
Brighton boss Graham Potter told BBC Sport: “We are disappointed to come away with nothing. We met a top team. I’m so proud of the players. You have to suffer here, that’s how it is. We tried to attack.
“You’re always on the stretch because they have fantastic players. They’re so good, they drive you back. Our intention was to be on the front foot and play and attack when we could.
“The boys defended well when they had to and left everything on the pitch which is all you can ask.”
There were promising signs for Brighton. The fringe players stepped up to what was a massive task against Manchester City. Mac Allister, Trossard and Tau were brilliant and caused City’s defence problems.
With Bissouma, Lallana, Welbeck and Lamptey all coming back in the coming weeks, Brighton will have a squad far more capable to stay out of the relegation zone.
Brighton will be searching for only their third league win of the season when they play at Leeds on Saturday, 16 January, 15:00 kick off.