Manchester City 4 – 1 Southampton
Toure (Pen) 3′ , Nasri 45′, Dzeko 45+3′ , Jovetic 80′
Lambert (Pen) 37′
An injury which could potentially rule Jay Rodriguez out of this summer’s World cup summed up Southampton’s day, as they slumped to a 4-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium. However, the big story of the day was more closely run, with a woeful display from both the officials and Paolo Gazzaniga competing for this.
Saints had made two changes to the team that beat Newcastle last week, with Gazzaniga in for the injured Boruc and Schneiderlin replacing Ward-Prowse, who dropped to the bench. City were unchanged from the side that drew with Arsenal, with Sergio Aguero deemed not fit enough to return to the squad.
The game began miserably for Saints, with Edin Dzeko taking on Jose Fonte in the box. Fonte lazily hung out his leg, and although there wasn’t enough contact to send the City striker sprawling, the referee gave the spot kick. Yaya Toure stepped up and sent Gazzaniga the wrong way. The early goal seemed to settle Southampton, though, as the away team controlled the possession throughout the first half. Despite a series of corners, Saints lacked a killer instinct, which wasn’t helped on 26 minutes with an injury to their top scorer. Jay Rodriguez landed awkwardly when attempting to control the ball. It was clearly a bad injury, with the England striker being stretchered off the pitch. It could potentially rule him out of the World Cup, which would be a real blow for him and England given his form this season.
Saints had their first real shot of the match from a free-kick, which Rickie Lambert curled wide from a distance. The Saints got their much deserved equaliser as Jack Cork burst into the edge of the box before being brought down by Pablo Zabaleta. Zabaleta protested, quickly moving himself outside of the box; however it didn’t stop Chris Foy awarding a penalty. Rickie Lambert stepped up and hit a powerful penalty just out of Joe Hart’s reach to maintain his impeccable penalty record for Saints. This came just minutes after City had a chance to go two up, when Edin Dzeko saw a free header crash back off the bar when he really should have scored.
Perhaps the turning point of the game happened on the stroke of half time, with Samir Nasri slotting home David Silva’s pass. Saints were aggrieved though, as Silva was clearly standing about five yards offside when he received Nasri’s flick through. Pochettino had hardly had time to make his point to the fourth official before City added a third, with a fantastic cross from Kolarov being glanced in by Dzeko. Gazzaniga will have to take the blame for this, as he was poorly positioned for the cross and completely missed it as he came flying out.
This appeared to knock the stuffing out of Saints, as they seemed unable to perform in the second half. Dzeko and Navas both had chances to put the game out of sight, and at the other end, Lambert dragged a powerful shot wide. Yaya Toure was booked for a second dive of the game, and Negredo was set through on goal, but he lingered on the ball for long enough for Jose Fonte to get a crucial tackle in. Any chance of a Saints comeback was put to bed with ten minutes to go, when Navas found space out wide to place a low cross past a flailing Gazzaniga for Stefan Jovetic to slot in to an empty net. Toure and Negredo had chances to add a fifth, but Gazzangia managed to keep them out.
As the final whistle went, it was clear that Pochettino felt aggrieved by the official’s decisions, even breaking in to English in his post-match interview, saying: “This action killed the game. The linesman killed the game.” Manuel Pellegrini was not in agreement though, explaining after the match: “They had the possession, but they didn’t have the chances to score. I cannot remember Joe Hart having to make a save”.
All in all, City clearly deserved the three points, but Southampton fans will have every right to feel hard-done-by by the officials today.
Manchester City:Hart 6; Zabaleta 5, Kompany 6, Demichelis 6, Kolarov 7; Fernandinho 6(Javi García, 45, 5), Yaya Touré 6, Nasri 7, Jesús Navas 6, Silva 7 (Jovetic, 77, 7), Dzeko 7 (Negredo, 65, 6)
Unused: Pantilimon, Richards, Lescott, Milner
Booked: Fernandinho, Javi Garcia, Yaya Toure
Southampton: Gazzaniga 2; Chambers 5, Fonte 4, Lovren 5, Shaw 5; Cork 7 (Wanyama, 80, 6), Schneiderlin 6, Davis 6 (Gallagher, 75, 6); Rodriguez 6 (Ward-Prowse, 26, 6), Lallana 6, Lambert 7
Unused: Cropper, Hooiveld, Clyne, Do Prado
Referee: Chris Foy 4
Manchester City – Southampton
Goals: 4 – 1
Shots On Target: 8 – 1
Shots Off Target: 7 – 4
Possession: 44% – 56%
Corners: 5 – 9
Fouls: 9 – 15
Bookings: 3 – 0