Post by Football News on Apr 15, 2017 19:23:48 GMT
Southampton 0 - 3 Man City
Vincent Kompany sets Manchester City on way to win at Southampton
Away team scorers Vincent Kompany 55 Leroy Sane 77 Sergio Aguero 80
Vincent Kompany, so luckless with injuries, has been missing for most of Pep Guardiola’s reign at Manchester City, but the club’s captain came to the fore when it mattered here, setting his team up for a precious win by scoring with a powerful second-half header. Leroy Sané and Sergio Agüero then confirmed the victory by finishing off a pair of deadly counterattacks.
Failing to challenge for the Premier League title or the Champions League might be grudgingly accepted in Guardiola’s first campaign in charge but dropping out of the top four would be much harder to bear even in a season of transition, especially if City were to be replaced by their neighbours in red.
City arrived here with the intention of preserving the buffer zone between themselves and United in advance of the Manchester derby, which is their next assignment after next Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.
Guardiola had the rare pleasure of being able to deploy Kompany but that was countered by the loss of John Stones, who suffered an unspecified injury in the buildup. Guardiola might have considered that doubly unfortunate given the return to fitness of Manolo Gabbiadini, the striker who had scored six goals in his previous five appearances for Southampton since joining from Napoli in January. The Italian could not have wished for a smoother integration at Southampton, a club that have become dab hands at seasons of transition. Claude Puel’s side are on course for a top-half finish and will have an influence on how things unfold even higher up the table as they still have to play Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Southampton began with confidence but should have been relieved of it within five minutes as Agüero frittered away two good chances.
The first came courtesy of a lovely cross from the left by Gaël Clichy. Agüero showed dexterity to meet it, raising his right leg high like a ballerina before shooting like one, too. He was soon put clean through again but fired wide.
It took the hosts 10 minutes to retort and they, too, had cause to lament scruffy finishing. The move had been admirably neat, Nathan Redmond piercing City’s defence with a pass to Gabbiadini, who calmly cut it back to Dusan Tadic. The Serb, in splendid isolation in the middle of City’s box, could not contain his excitement nor control his shot, which landed in the upper reaches of the Northam Stand.
It was plain that Southampton would not get many ventures into the City area, as most of their energy was spent trying to disrupt the visitors’ passing, which was intricate if not particularly urgent. It was, however, a test of Southampton’s discipline as much as their skill. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg flunked it on the half-hour when he was booked for chopping down Sané in midfield, an offence born of exasperation.
But that was an uncommon lapse in the first half and five minutes later Southampton attacked in the right way, Steven Davis going close from a header.
Soon City were on the front foot again and the hosts enjoyed another surprising reprieve when Sané shot into the side-netting from close range after a dinked cross by Agüero. City suggested Southampton enjoyed another undue let-off when Sané went down in the box as Fraser Forster dived at his feet. The referee, Neil Swarbrick, saw nothing awry.
The tempo jumped a touch in the second half. Yaya Touré stung Forster’s hands with a curling shot from 25 yards. Then James Ward-Prowse got a chance to worry Claudio Bravo but, as it turned out, the goalkeeper did not need to intervene as the midfielder’s 20-yard free-kick flew a couple of yards over the bar.
Forster, by contrast, had to excel in the 55th minute to tip over a ferocious long-range shot by Jesús Navas. But Kompany ensured that merely delayed the breakthrough. From the resultant corner the defender released a year’s worth of pent-up frustration by outjumping Maya Yoshida and powering a header into the net from six yards.
Puel responded by making a pair of substitutions immediately, introducing Shane Long and Sofiane Boufal in place of Gabbiadini and Ward-Prowse.
City threatened to double their lead on a counterattack, Forster struggled to cut out a low cross by Kevin De Bruyne before Jack Stephens blocked a shot by Silva. Stephens foiled City again in the 71st minute when he tracked a run by Agüero before nicking the ball off the Argentinian just as the striker seemed poised to shoot. Southampton’s other centre-back, Yoshida, then had a chance to equalise but Bravo saved his header.
Southampton pursued an equaliser and soon paid the price. City killed the contest with two successful counterattacks, Kevin De Bruyne providing the decisive pass each time as Sané and Agüero claimed the goals.