Erling Haaland bags brace with stunning bicycle kick as Manchester City thrashed Southampton at St Mary’s to close the gap on Premier League top to five points.
Southampton: Bazunu; Maitland-Niles, Bednarek, Bella-Kotchap, Walker-Peters; Ward-Prowse, Lavia; Elyounoussi, Alcaraz, Sulemana; Walcott.
Manchester City: Ederson; Akanji, Dias, Ake; Stones, Rodri; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish; Haaland.
The defending champions grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck as the match got underway.
Southampton were pushed to the wall right from start as the Premier League champions hoped to close the point on Arsenal at the top.
As expected, the Citizens dominated play, trying to drop the curtain raiser and snatch all three points at St Mary’s.
City came close to netting the opener early in the 5th minute after the visitors broke with speed with IIkay Gundogan teeing up Jack Grealish who fired at goal before Southampton goalkeeper Bazunu pointed it out.
The visitors came close again in the 13th minute with crosses from Mahrez and De Bryune from the wings into the Southampton box but was cleared.
They continued to launch threats inside the Southampton half but were unable to break the goal deadlock.
Southampton rarely threatened Manchester City defense but Maitland Niles made an effort after he won the ball upfield in the 24th minute but was effectively contained by Nathan Ake.
City won back possession and continued to dominate the game going forward.
The clinical Pep Guardiola boys almost break the goal deadlock in the 40th minute when De Bryune aimed a pass at Haaland but the latter missed it and allowed Bazunu to save the ball effortlessly.
After intense pressure, marooning the Saints to the wall throughout the game, City finally got the opener just at the tail end of the first half
It was Erling Haaland with the goal. The deadly Norwegian goal poacher nodded home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross to give Manchester City a deserved lead before both sides retired to the tunnel for the first half break.
Manchester City still took control of the game in the second half with their slender 1-0 lead.
Despite taking absolute control of proceedings, Pep Guardiola made two early second half changes to the squad to sharpen the City attack.
Bernardo Silva was subbed off for Ryadh Mahrez while Kyle Walker replaced John Stones at the defense.
Just a minute after Pep Guardiola’s changes to the squad, Manchester City doubled the lead in the 58th minute.
Jack Grealish fired De Bryune’s pass straight on target. The ball was punched out by Bazunu but he did not clear it well and Grealish was right on hand to fire the rebound into the net to make it 0-2 for City.
The Premier League title hopefuls sealed the win with another brilliant goal by Erling Haaland. Bagging his brace in the 78th minute, the Norwegian goal-machine again brought his class to bear after he pounced on Grealish’s cross, delivering a perfect bicycle kick into the bottom corner to make it 0-3 for the away side.
Southampton put one back in the 72nd minute after Mara slots home Djenepo’s pass to make the scoreline respectable.
However, the Saints comeback hopes were dashed when Walker-Peters slid down Kevin De Bruyne in the box and a penalty was awarded to City.
Julian Alvarez converted it sending Bazunu to the wrong direction to make it 1-4, putting the game beyond the hosts.