MAN CITY 3, SOUTHAMPTON 2
Manchester City face an anxious wait to discover the severity of an injury to Sergio Aguero as their Barclays Premier League title defence kicked off with a hard earned and somewhat unconvincing victory against Southampton.
City lost star striker Aguero with what appeared a serious injury to his right knee which was sustained less than eight minutes into the match against the newly-promoted Saints.
Aguero fell awkwardly after a challenge from Saints’ right back Nathaniel Clyne and, after hobbling to the touchline, was taken from the field on a stretcher.
City manager Roberto Mancini admitted it is a massive concern saying: “We will have to wait for two days for a scan and we are hoping it is not too serious.
“Injuries can happen is every game, but one’s to knees are always dangerous. Yes, I am worried.
“The good thing is that he wanted to try and play on.”
The loss of Aguero for a lengthy spell would be a massive blow for City as Aguero’s 30 goals in all competitions last season were pivotal in winning their first title for 44 years.
As for the match itself, it underlined that romance still exists in the beautiful game as Saints, 2-1 ahead with 19 minutes left, gave City the fright of their lives and Mancini conceded his side were blow par.
“We had chances to close out the game and we must take them. We need to improve,” he continued.
Little over 15 months ago Saints were still in the third tier of English football having fallen on hard times. They could scarcely have envisaged such a fixture.
Back-to-back promotions and Saints are back at the top table though they could not have had a more daunting start than a visit to the champions.
Six of Saints’ starters were journeymen who have been at St Mary’s since the start of their great adventure which coincided with the appointment of Nigel Adkins as manager.
Saints gave an admirable account of themselves and were not overawed by the occasion, though City for the most part lacked the sparkle which won them the championship just over three months ago.
After losing Aguero, there was soon another mishap when David Silva had a penalty easily saved by Saints’ keeper Kelvin Davies. The spot kick was awarded after a trip by Josh Hooiveld on Carlos Tevez.
After a largely frustrating opening, City took the lead in the 40th minute when Carlos Tevez latched on to a long through ball from Samir Nasri and beat Davis with a near-post shot.
City wasted great chances to extend their lead early in the second half when Gael Clichy blazed over from six yards and Silva struck the crossbar.
They were to prove costly misses when Saints’ substitute Ricky Lambert, who had been on the field barely four minutes, struck an equalising goal against the run of play.
There was worse to come as City were caught out again in the 67th with a breakaway goal which came from their own corner.
Three City defenders found themselves up against five Saints’ players as Adam Lallana layed the ball back for substitute Steven Davis, who had only been on the field for two minutes, to shoot low to the left of Hart.
City made it 2-2 in the 72nd minute from a corner when Yaya Toure’s shot was blocked and ran free for substitute Edin Dzeko to rifle home from close range.
They regained the lead with what turned out to be the matchwinning goals with 10 minutes left when Hooiveld headed Clichy’s cross out to Nasri who drove home an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards.