Manchester City are now fourth in the Premier League table and in danger of missing next season's Champions League after an ugly 4-2 loss on the road against Southampton, thanks to goals from Shane Long and Sadio Mané (3), with two goals from Kelechi Iheanacho for City. The Citizens were heavily rotated ahead of next Wednesday's match against Real Madrid, and got dominated by a talented, efficient Saints side.
It was a terrible initial period for City, from start to finish. With a shaky defense and zero creativity going forward, the Citizens struggled to find any chances to trouble Southampton's defense. Iheanacho and Raheem Sterling were the only two players who tried something different, and they actually combined to create the only good opportunity for the Sky Blues, a Sterling shot that was easily stopped by Fraser Forster.
Southampton, on the other hand, were fantastic across the board, well organized on defense to close spaces and attacking with purpose and creativity. Dusan Tadic was the star of the show, constantly finding his striker, Shane Long, and picking up dangerous runs from Sadio Mané. Long and Mané scored off Tadic's assists, and Saints got a quick two-goal lead and seemed to have total control of the match.
Then City got lucky with a cross into the box and the ball somehow bounced in the direction of Iheanacho, who gave City hope with a fine header. And the visitors went into halftime with a horrible performance, but a one-goal deficit and enough quality on the bench to change the game in the second half.
City had a better start to the second half, forcing Saints to drop deeper and defend close to their box. There was quicker passing and better player movement, and the Citizens finally looked dangerous. But after a corner-kick, despite a fantastic save from Joe Hart on a header from Virgil van Dijk, Mané once again was quick to the ball and scored Southampton's third. Mané was not done, and ten minutes later, after a third assist from Tadic, he easily beat Hart and completed his hat-trick.
There was very little hope for City, but Iheanacho continued to fight and scored a sensational curling goal to complete a double and maintain his amazing individual form. The Citizens went forward trying to get another goal and lit the game on fire, but they weren't creative enough to do it.
In the end, a terrible performance that puts next season's Champions League spot at risk, and a loss that hurts the team's confidence ahead of the visit to Santiago Bernabéu. Not good for City, at all.
Southampton: Forster | Martina, van Dijk, Fonte, Bertrand | Wanyama, Clasie (Romeu) | Mané, Davis (Ward-Prowse), Tadic (Rodriguez) | Long
Goals: Long (25'), Mané (28', 57', 68')
Man City: Hart | Zabaleta, Otamendi, Mangala, Kolarov | Nasri, Fernandinho (Demichelis) | Delph (Navas), Sterling | Iheanacho, Bony
Goals: Iheanacho (44', 78')