Manchester City returned to winning ways in style with a thumping win over Southampton that moves them 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
Riyad Mahrez and Kevin de Bruyne both scored twice as City delivered an emphatic and instant response to their defeat in Sunday’s Manchester derby, which had ended a 21-game winning run.
This was not the disciplined display typical of many of City’s victories this season but their incisive attacking, aided by some helter-skelter Saints defending, meant they still ended up convincing winners.
A strong Southampton start counted for nothing when Ryan Bertrand switched off and, from Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross, De Bruyne swept home from close range after Alex McCarthy had kept out Phil Foden’s initial effort.
Saints, who had conceded nine goals at Old Trafford on their previous visit to Manchester at the start of February, quickly hit back through James Ward-Prowse’s spot-kick after Aymeric Laporte fouled Jannik Vestergaard from a corner.
At that stage it appeared City would not have things all their own way, especially when they were denied what appeared a clear penalty when McCarthy challenged Foden after mis-controlling a back-pass.
Foden seemed to pay the price for trying to stay on his feet as McCarthy lunged in – referee Jon Moss felt the Saints keeper got a touch on the ball, with VAR apparently not seeing anything to disprove that, although the City bench and players clearly felt otherwise.
In the end that decision did not affect the outcome, with Mahrez taking centre stage to put the home side in control before half-time.
The Algerian international restored City’s lead with a fine finish after intercepting a wayward crossfield pass from Che Adams and although the post denied him a second goal moments later, Ilkay Gundogan was on hand to follow up.
Mahrez picked up where he left off after the break, meeting a Foden pass to turn inside a crowded area and fire home City’s fourth.
Ward-Prowse briefly reduced the deficit after a defensive mistake but Southampton were guilty of far more lapses at the back and De Bruyne punished them when he burst clear from another Foden through-ball to complete the scoring.
City bounce back despite poor start
With nine league games to go, City know six more wins will make them mathematically sure of their third title in four seasons.
The way this latest success was achieved was a throwback to earlier in Guardiola’s reign when they seemed happy to outscore the opposition, but the end result was the same – three points.
They had to work hard for them – a sluggish start had cost City dear in the derby and they were similarly slow out of the blocks here, only suffering far less damage.
Guardiola’s side sleepwalked through the first 10 minutes with the visitors enjoying 77% of possession in that opening period – but failing to land a meaningful blow.
Better teams would have punished City, but once De Bruyne scored on their first foray forward after 15 minutes, normal service was resumed.
Saints struggling at the back
Southampton still have a cushion of seven points above the relegation zone but their defending must be a major concern for boss Ralph Hasenhuttl as he plots his side’s survival.
West Brom are the only top-flight team to have conceded more goals than the 49 Saints have shipped this season and, if not for McCarthy and some sloppy finishing, City might have matched the tally their neighbours managed against them last month.
Of the goals City did score, Saints should have done better with four of them, paying the price for either blatant errors – such as the one Adams made for City’s second goal, or switching off when they had sufficient numbers back.
All of that undermined some enterprising attacking play. Southampton’s high press was effective, especially early on, but when City got past that, they did not encounter enough resistance.
What next? City head for Fulham
City head for Craven Cottage to face Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday (20:00 BST) and a win will send them 17 points clear – nearest rivals United and Leicester do not play until Sunday.
Southampton play south coast rivals Brighton on Sunday (12:00), looking for their first home league win since they beat Liverpool at St Mary’s Stadium on 4 January.
City score five again – the stats
- Manchester City have scored 5+ goals in 23 Premier League games since Pep Guardiola took charge in 2016-17, doing so in 12 games more than any other side in the competition during this period (Liverpool & Tottenham next on 11 each).
- Southampton conceded 5+ goals in a Premier League game for the 18th time – only Newcastle (21) have done so on more occasions in the competition’s history.
- Manchester City have followed up each of their last nine Premier League defeats at the Etihad with a victory in their very next home game in the competition.
- Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Southampton than against any other side (11 – 4 goals, 7 assists).
- James Ward-Prowse’s equaliser for Southampton (1-1) was the sixth penalty goal Manchester City have conceded at the Etihad this season, becoming only the third side in the competition’s history to concede six home penalty goals in a season, after Newcastle in 2004-05 and Brighton in 2018-19.
- Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez (51) became the seventh player to score 50+ left footed goals in the Premier League (also Fowler, van Persie, Giggs, Salah, Lukaku and Giroud).
- Since Ralph Hasenhüttl’s first game in charge of Southampton in December 2018, only Newcastle (20) have seen their players make more combined errors leading to Premier League goals than the Saints (18).
- Manchester City’s Ilkay Gündogan scored his 10th league goal of 2021, one of four players in Europe’s top five leagues to reach double figures this year, after Robert Lewandowski (14), Lionel Messi (12) and André Silva (10).
- 3Rúben Dias
- 11ZinchenkoSubstituted forMendyat 81′minutes
- 17De BruyneSubstituted forAgüeroat 72′minutes
- 25FernandinhoBooked at 82mins
- 26MahrezSubstituted forTorresat 61′minutes
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 9Gabriel Jesus
- 17ArmstrongSubstituted forWattsat 72′minutes
- 5StephensSubstituted forDialloat 63′minutes
- 12DjenepoSubstituted forTellaat 45′minutes
Match ends, Manchester City 5, Southampton 2.
Second Half ends, Manchester City 5, Southampton 2.
Attempt blocked. Ferran Torres (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bernardo Silva.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Alex McCarthy.
Attempt saved. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Phil Foden.
Attempt missed. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ilkay Gündogan.
Offside, Southampton. James Ward-Prowse tries a through ball, but Che Adams is caught offside.
Phil Foden (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Mohammed Salisu (Southampton).
Attempt saved. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Fernandinho (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).
Nathan Tella (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Manchester City. Benjamin Mendy replaces Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Ederson.
Attempt missed. Ferran Torres (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Fernandinho.
Substitution, Southampton. Caleb Watts replaces Stuart Armstrong.
Substitution, Manchester City. Sergio Agüero replaces Kevin De Bruyne.
Attempt missed. Phil Foden (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Ilkay Gündogan.
Foul by Phil Foden (Manchester City).
Help us to become independent in PANDEMIC COVID-19. Contribute to diligent Authors.