Saints deal City a deadly blow
Southampton 3 Manchester City 1:Inexplicable mistakes by Joe Hart and Gareth Barry dealt Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes a potentially fatal blow as Southampton secured their first win under Mauricio Pochettino in style.
City goalkeeper Hart admitted in the build-up that anything but victory at St Mary’s would all but end any their hopes of retaining the title, with leaders Manchester United already boasting a nine-point cushion.
Roberto Mancini’s side simply did not look like a side in need of a victory tonight, conceding after just seven minutes when Jason Puncheon slotted home. Hart could have possibly done better with the shot that led to the opener, but there was no doubting his culpability for Southampton’s second.
Excellent team interplay put through Rickie Lambert, whose fierce drive squirmed through the England international’s grasp, allowing Steven Davis to bundle home.
Edin Dzeko reduced the deficit as half-time approached, although a two-goal lead could have been restored on the stroke of half-time had referee Martin Atkinson not waved away Jay Rodriguez’s penalty appeals.
That was soon forgotten, though, as Barry passed into his own goal unchallenged to put Saints on course for a first win since Pochettino replaced Nigel Adkins at the helm.
“I am disappointed with our performance. They deserved to win,” Mancini said on ESPN. “We didn’t play well. We conceded a goal that I have never seen in my life. That’s it. Now we can do nothing - only say congratulations to Southampton for their performance. I think (the players) understand that we played really bad. I think it’s the worst game in the last two or three years, maybe.
“We’re missing Vinny (Kompany) and missing (Matija) Nastasic, and we have some players who are not in form. They played really bad - without strength, without personality. I’m very disappointed in them.”
City will be 12 points behind Manchester United if their neighbours beat Everton tomorrow and when asked what the defeat meant for his team’s title chances, Mancini replied: “We have 10 per cent, maybe.”
On the opening day of the season the newly-promoted side were valiant in a 3-2 defeat at the Etihad Stadium. It was a similarly end-to-end encounter this evening, with Saints dominating the proceedings early on and netting a seventh-minute opener.
After Barry was dispossessed, Puncheon burst down the right flank and played through the unmarked Rodriguez. Hart managed to deny the winger but the ball fell kindly for Puncheon, who slotted home calmly in front of the Northam End.
City were struggling to deal with Southampton’s attacking intent in an opening 15 minutes in which a tame Sergio Aguero effort was all they had to show for their efforts. They eventually began to settle but were soon rocked by a second Southampton goal in the 22nd minute.