Southampton hosted Manchester City in the 3 pm kickoff yesterday. The Saints started the day in fourth place and just four points behind leaders Liverpool. Man City won the game 1-0 as Southampton fell to fifth place. After Liverpool’s 7-0 win over Crystal Palace, Southampton were given a dose of reality as Man City’s talent shone through. They now sit seven points behind Liverpool.
The Saints started with errors as a poor pass from right-back Kyle Walker-Peters failed to find captain James Ward-Prowse. This was picked up by İlkay Gündoğan who gave the ball to Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. Last season’s PFA Player of the Season took a shot, which was deflected off Southampton centre back Jannik Vestergaard.
The errors continued for Southampton as Ings lost the ball in a play that resulted in a corner. The corner was taken and eventually, the ball came out to João Cancelo who fired a shot that was saved well by Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
Man City wouldn’t have to wait much longer for a goal as on the 16th minute, they got the game’s only goal. City played out from the back and Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson’s long goal kick was headed out by Southampton centre back Jan Bednarek.
De Bruyne picked the ball up and played it to Bernardo Silva who in turn found De Bruyne on the overlap. The Belgian crossed the ball in and Raheem Sterling put the ball past McCarthy to give Man City the lead.
Southampton began to bring pressure and a few chances fell their way after the Sterling goal.
In the 21st minute, Vestergaard played a beautiful ball to Theo Walcott who forced Ederson to a save. Ings couldn’t get to the ball, but midfielder Oriol Romeu did. He took a shot, which was deflected into the hands of Ederson.
Just a few minutes later, Moussa Djenepo found Walcott, who played a ball into Ings, whose header fell wide. Calls for a penalty were rightly not given.
Later on, in the first half, Danny Ings would leave the pitch with a hamstring injury. This would leave the Englishman out for at least several weeks.
Ings is a player who has overcome season-ending injuries whilst at Liverpool and has become the Saints’ talisman. Only Leicester’s Jamie Vardy scored more Premier League goals than Danny Ings last season.
His absence will be a huge miss for Southampton fans and his teammates.
In the second half, City’s dominance became apparent.
Ferran Torres almost doubled City’s lead in the 47th minute, firing wide of the far post.
City were guilty several times of too many passes. In the 52nd minute, De Bruyne found Sterling who then played the ball to Bernardo Silva, who took too many touches in the box as his effort failed to beat McCarthy.
There was a call for a penalty from Southampton in the second half, with Saints players feeling that Sterling had handballed. The replay showed that it was not a penalty.
They had a chance where 21-year-old Nathan Tella crossed the ball in. City centre back John Stones lunged in and got a touch on the ball, but Saints striker Che Adams couldn’t get the contact he wanted from the tight angle.
Gundogan tested McCarthy in the 78th minute and in the 92nd minute, De Bruyne capitalised as Oriol Romeu was tackled by Rodri. De Bruyne found Sterling on the edge of the box, who then played the ball into the feet of Bernardo Silva on the left-hand side. Silva would not have been blamed for shooting, which he should have done. He crossed to Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez, who hit the ball over the bar.
Overall, Southampton were impressive in the first half but ultimately faded away in the second half.
City were not at their best but they got the job done.
Southampton will take a lot of lessons from this game, but fans dreaming of a Leicester-esque season were given a sense of reality.