Free-scoring Manchester City take on goal-shy Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and will go clear at the top of the league with a win and other results go their way. The blues are unbeaten in eight matches against the Saints, and our Match from the Past takes a look at one of those matches from 2012.
The opening day of the season and Manchester City, newly crowned champions of the Premier League faced newly promoted Southampton at home. The bleus had won the title in dramatic circumstances with a last minute winner against QPR, while Saints had clawed their way from League One and out of the Championship, back into the top flight. It was odds-on a City win, but Saints would show they were not in the Premier League to make up the numbers.
City started well but lost striker Sergio Aguero, who scored that memorable last minute winner against QPR just three months earlier, to injury after just 13 minutes. The blues were awarded a penalty three minutes later when Carlos Tevez was hauled down in the box. In Aguero’s absence, the responsibility fell to David Silva, whose spot kick was easily saved by the visiting keeper.
The blues finally broke the stubborn Southampton resistance just before the break. Samir Nasri’s inch perfect ball to Carlos Tevez saw the Argentine beat the offside trap and rifle home, beating the keeper at his near post.
City then missed a host of chances in the second half, and Silva’s day was compounded when he hit the bar from close range when it was easier to score. The blues were then punished for those misses just before the hour mark. Ricky Lambert’s attempted pass rebounded of Joleon Lescott back to the striker, who buried a first time shot beyond Joe Hart and into the back of the net.
With twenty minutes remaining, Southampton took a shock lead, and again it was poor defending from City that set it up. Lescott’s interception wasn’t cleared and Lambert knocked the ball back to Steven Davis, who hit a shot from the edge of the area that flew past Hart to give Saints the lead.
City were shell-shocked. Just like the final game last season, the blues had thrown away a lead to trail 2-1. But Southampton’s joy was short lived. A City corner was headed clear but fell to Vincent Kompany, whose shot hit Toure on the edge of the six yard box. The Ivorian struggled to get the ball out from under his feet, but somehow managed to get it Dzeko who, just like last season, slammed in an equaliser.
The winner for City came soon afterwards, when a cross on the City left was weakly cleared to Nasri who hammered home a half volley from the penalty spot.
It was a hard fought victory, the first of what would prove to be a difficult and often tumultuous one for the blues and manager Roberto Mancini.
Final Score: City 3-2 Southampton