Manchester City returned to winning ways this weekend with a 3-1 victory over Southampton, but the result masked a poor performance from the Sky Blues, and manager Manuel Pellegrini will be under no illusions that his side are still struggling of late. Coming off the back of two defeats and a draw from their last three games in all competitions, City weren’t in the best shape to face the Saints and it showed.
The hosts’ opening goal came from a mistake by Southampton’s Maya Yoshida who relinquished possession deep in his own half to City forward Raheem Sterling who squared for Kevin De Bruyne to score from close range. Manchester City’s second goal was a deflected effort from Fabian Delph that completely wrong-footed Maarten Stekelenburg between the sticks.
And after Southampton had halved the deficit through Shane Long, while dominating the second-half, they were hit with a sucker punch from Aleksandar Kolarov who somehow volleyed past four bodies to find the back of the net form an unfavourable angle. Manager Ronald Koeman will be disappointed with the manner of all three goals conceded, but will take the positives of the side’s second-half showing.
“It was a very hard start in the game. If you’re making those kind of mistakes against City you know you lose the game. The first 20 minutes was very poor. We made (City look) strong in the first part of the game because we lost so many balls in our building-up from back. You can’t win if you play at that level. We had a big chance for Dusan Tadic to score and make it 2-2 in the second-half, and these are the key moments to get something out of the game,” said the Saints boss.
Southampton should have found an equaliser before City regained their two-goal advantage with a penalty appeal turned down in the second-half, as well as a missed close range opportunity from Dusan Tadic. In the end, Saints paid the price for errors made in the first-half, but were somewhat unfortunate in the second. They gifted City goals, and failed to take the chances that came their way.
Nevertheless, for Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, he will be relieved to have come away with three points after a troublesome month. He was under no illusions, however, admitting that Southampton had City rattled after the break. He said: “We started very strong, especially in the first 25 minutes. I was very pleased with the team’s reaction. We were a little nervous until the third goal, but I’m happy with the performance and the result.”