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Back on track
Manchester City got their Premier League campaign back on course with an emphatic 5-2 victory over Southampton.
After losing for the first time in over three months last Sunday, Pep Guardiola’s men came out very determined on Wednesday.
A pair of goals from Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne helped them ease past the helpless Saints in this one.
Ilkay Gundogan got the match-winner into injury time in the first half.
After having their 21-game winning run stopped by Manchester United, City was keen to make a statement, and that’s what they did.
Within 15 minutes, the Sky Blues already had their noses in front.
On seemingly their first attack of the game, Oleksandr Zinchenko got free down the left as the Ukrainian’s cross was met well by Phil Foden. Alex McCarthy did well to save the Englishman’s effort, but Kevin De Bruyne was right there to tap in the rebound.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’ side answered nicely in the 23rd minute with an excellent exchange of passes as Nathan Redmond found space and fired a terrific shot towards the far corner that Ederson steered away.
A minute later and the Saints had a penalty after Aymeric Laporte brought down Jannik Vestergaard.
James Ward-Prowse stepped up and calmly drove his shot down the middle as Ederson dove the wrong way and the Saints were level.
Ederson did well to keep the score level, tipping Ward Prowse’s long-range effort over the bar in the 33rd minute.
With five minutes remaining before halftime City were back in front.
Riyad Mahrez cut out a horrendous giveaway by Che Adams, who tried to switch play. The Algerian gladly accepted the gift cutting the ball onto this left foot and firing a fierce shot beyond McCarthy’s reach at the far post.
Mahrez was at it again in injury time with an excellent exchange of passes with De Bruyne on the edge of the box. The defender’s shot cannoned off the post but straight to Ilkay Gundogan who finished quickly.
Into the second half, the Citizens looked to bury the Saints.
McCarthy did well to stop a Phil Foden strike in the 50th minute.
Mahrez made it 4-1 in the 55th minute as he took an excellent feed from Foden in the box, got away from a pair of challenges and drilled a shot past McCarthy for his second of the match.
A minute later, Southampton got a consolation goal as some sloppy possession by City in their box led to a Stuart Armstrong shot ricocheting off Che Adams, who fired home past Ederson.
Three minutes later, though, De Bruyne put the game to bed as Foden found the Belgian in space in the Saints penalty area, where he fired home his fifth goal of the season.
Gundogan nearly had his second in the 72nd minute while Ferran Torres came close in the 78th minute.
Southampton had a third goal disallowed for offside five minutes from the end, but ultimately this match belonged to Manchester City.
Man of the Match
Riyad Mahrez continues to shine as he put together another breathtaking performance.
Fresh off being named his teams Player of the Month, the winger had a pair of goals and was heavily involved in City’s attacks throughout the match.
Whenever his side has a bit of a letdown, he seems to be the guy to bring them back.
With the Saints growing in confidence, he crushed their spirit in the 40th minute with a stunning strike. Minutes later he helped build-up Gundogan’s backbreaking goal at the end of the half.
For an hour of work, he earned his pay today.
Mahrez now has 51 total Premier League goals in his career. He became the seventh Premier League player to score 50+ left-footed goals in the competition’s history.
Man City’s defence has been in the spotlight all season long, but their attack responded in a big way today.
This is not the first time Pep Guardiola’s side has managed to score at least five goals.
With today’s result City have scored five-plus goals in 23 Premier League encounters under the Spaniard’s guidance. That’s by far the most of any Premier League side in the competition’s history. The next closest team to score five or more in multiple games are Liverpool and Tottenham, who’ve each notched five-plus goals in 11 EPL matches.
As if this season couldn’t get any worse for Southampton, they now have another dubious distinction to add to their resume.
The Saints have allowed five goals or more in 18 Premier League matches. The only teams that have done that better is Newcastle, who’ve conceded five or times in 21 EPL games.
Answering the Call
Once again, City has shown an ability to get up off the canvas when facing a little adversity.
This was the response Pep Guardiola’s side needed as they focus on the prospect of a quadruple this season.
City has followed up each of their last nine defeats at home in the Premier League now with a victory in their very next EPL match at the Etihad.
Over the past few seasons, Southampton seems to struggle to execute a game plan.
Since Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first game with the Saints in December 2018, his side has made 18 combined league play errors, which have led to goals. That’s a distinction only bested by Newcastle with 20.
Ilkay Gundogan continues to light up the Premier League with another goal.
The German’s game-winner late in the first half was his 10th league goals in 2021.
That’s put him in some pretty elite company among goalscorers who’ve achieved that feat this year.
Gundogan is one of only four players in Europe’s top five leagues to reach double figures in goals in 2021. The others include Robert Lewandowski (14), Lionel Messi (12), and Andre Silva (10).
What it means
For City, they move 14 points above Man United in the Premier League table, having played one more game.
The Saints remain in 14th just seven points out of relegation.
Man City manager Pep Guardiola said afterwards City’s individual quality helped carry them to victory.
“They (Southampton) made us suffer at times. In general, it was good. Another victory, and we move on to Fulham.
“Southampton put a lot of players in the middle and made it very hard for us. They expose a lot which allowed us to counter. The quality of our players won the game – Riyad, Phil and Kevin.”
Man City look to begin another winning streak when they travel to Fulham on Saturday.
The kickoff from Craven Cottage is at 8 pm. (JSL).