FootballManchester City

City hang on for narrow victory over Southampton

Sterling goal extends teams unbeaten run to five games in Premier League

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Closing the gap

 Manchester City inched a little closer to a top-four place in the Premier League Saturday edging Southampton 1-0.

Raheem Sterling’s 16th-minute strike was all the Blues would need in an entertaining match with plenty of chances at both ends.

Match Story

 The game’s first opportunity came City’s way in the 13th minute.

A corner was played short and laid off to Joao Cancelo who fired a long-range effort that was pushed away by Alex McCarthy in the Saints goal.

Three minutes later City took the lead.

Some great work by Raheem Sterling to get away from his marker Kyle Walker-Peters.

A great cross into the box from Kevin De Bruyne was hit first-time by Sterling beating McCarthy for the game’s first goal.

The Saints came close to leveling the match on 21 minutes.

Theo Walcott did well to cut inside the box curling a shot from the edge of the area.

Ederson parried it towards the onrushing Danny Ings but luckily for City it was just out of his reach.

Southampton continued to press and had another great opportunity six minutes later.

A great ball to Walcott who volleyed a first-time cross into the middle.

Ings got his head to it but it went just wide.

That’s the last opportunity Ings would get in the match unfortunately for him and the Saints.

In the 40th minute, Southampton’s top goal scorer sustained a muscle injury and had to be taken off for Nathan Tella.

The change seemed to knock some steam out of the Saints who were pressing hard for the equaliser.

Eight minutes into the second half and City nearly doubled its lead.

De Bruyne this time did well to shake off Walker-Peters drilling a nice low cross into the far post towards Bernardo Silva.

The Portuguese international didn’t get much on the shot though as McCarthy made a comfortable save.

Twenty minutes from the end De Bruyne had another chance to add an insurance marker for his team.

Silva this time became the provider squaring the ball to an unmarked De Bruyne on the edge of the area.

McCarthy did well to save it once again.

The Saints almost caught City napping three minutes later.

A dangerous cross from the right by Tella caused a mix-up between Ederson and  Ruben Dias which sent the ball to the far post.

The header by Che Adams however went into the side netting.

McCarthy kept the match in reach for his side in the 78th minute.

A quick City break as the ball was squared perfectly for Ilkay Gundogan on the edge of the box.

His shot was labeled for the top-left corner before McCarthy got his fingertips to it tipping it over the bar.

On this day the Blues wouldn’t need the insurance goal as they hung on for the win.

Owning the Saints

 The win is the eighth time in the last nine meetings between the sides that City’s come away with three points.

The 1-0 score also means the Cityzens avoid losing back-to-back games against the Saints for the first time since 2003.

Raheem Sterling continues to be one of City’s top contributors versus Southampton.

With his goal today, he’s now got 11 goal involvements in 16 EPL matches against Southampton.

The only Premier League club he’s done more damage against is West Ham with 14 goal involvements against the Hammers.

Man of the Match

 It was another masterclass performance for City’s Kevin De Bruyne.

The Belgian initiated every attack his team had today.

He made more key passes than anyone with four, set up the lone goal, and had a few scoring chances of his own.

Since the start of last season, De Bruyne’s got 42 goal involvements for his team.

Only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has more in that time with 45.

Putting up a Wall

 With today’s shutout victory City has six clean sheets in the Premier League, which is more than any other team this season.

No side’s conceded fewer goals than City either with 12.

It’s the first time Southampton’s failed to score in a Premier League match since their opening match defeat (1-0) to Crystal Palace.

Coaches Duel

 City boss Pep Guardiola is enjoying a lot of success against his Austrian counterpart Ralph Hasenthuttl.

The Spaniard’s now won six of the last seven meetings against Southampton’s boss.

Celebrating the Holidays

 City can go into the Christmas holidays on a positive note for once.

This victory is only the third time in their last 17 road matches before Christmas where they’ve come away with three points.

Meanwhile, Southampton comes away empty handed on their final match before Christmas for the first time in three seasons.

Manager’s Words

 Following the match manager, Pep Guardiola had high praise for his defensive unit.

“They were brilliant. We know exactly which team we faced, how good they are, the build-up is so, so good. They put a lot of players forward and make runs in behind. It’s good for us to climb the table and our mood.

“Our momentum is not good upfront. We had chances to score more. The back four were brilliant, Rodri, and Gundogan as well. Good victory for us,” says Guardiola.”

What it means

For the moment Pep Guardiola’s side sits in sixth place just a point behind the Saints and Leicester City.

Next Up

City’s focus shifts to the Carabao Cup as the Blues travel to Emirates Stadium in London for a quarterfinal match with Arsenal.

Game time on Tuesday is 8 pm.

The team’s next Premier League fixture goes on Boxing Day when they host Newcastle at 8 pm. (JSL).

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