MAN CITY 4, SOUTHAMPTON 1
Manchester City’s remarkable goalscoring exploits continued as they took another step towards regaining the Barclays League title.
City scored four or more goals in a league fixture for the tenth time as they swept aside the Saints after surviving an awkward opening.
It took two goals in first half stoppage time, the first of which from Samir Nasri saw provider David Silva yards offside, to enable City to put daylight between the two teams as they finished the opening half 3-1 ahead.
City, whose other goals came from Yaya Toure’s early penalty, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, had chances in the second half to have won by a wider margin.
Manuel Pellegrini admitted Southampton, who he described as a very good side, had caused City problems in the opening period.
City’s manager said: “It was a very different first 45 minutes to the second one.
“We didn’t play well in the first half when there great distances between the lines as Southampton had time to receive and turn and create danger in our box.
“Yet in our worst moment we scored three goals and Southampton didn’t have any chances.”
Pellegrini added he sorted the problems at the break and City were much improved in the second period.
He continued: “In the second half we scored one more goal, had three or four more chances and recovered well against a very good Southampton side.”
Pellegrini did not believe the offside second goal affected the course of the game.
“We won 4-1 and, if it had been 1-0, may be it would have been an important mistake,” he said.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino added Saints were the superior side until the controversial second goal which he claimed was two metres offside and which completely altered the course of the game. He also had issues with City’s early penalty.
He said: “We need to play a perfect game to beat a team like City and need the referee to get decisions right.
“It was like a game at school when you get dumb decisions.”
City made a dream start winning a penalty after only two minutes when Jose Fonte’s trailing leg brought down Dzeko.
Toure stepped forward to slot home his 22nd goal of the season as City started on the front foot with Nasri also having a chance soon after to double their advantage only to shoot narrowly wide.
Saints suffered a blow midway through the opening period when Jay Rodriguez landed awkwardly and appeared to twist his right knee.
Rodriguez was clearly in great pain, and after a stoppage of almost five minutes, he left the field on a stretcher, a great concern also to England manager Roy Hodgson who was watching from the stands.
City came agonisingly close to a second goal when Dzeko headed against the crossbar from Nasri’s free kick.
It was a costly miss as moments later Saints drew level, also from the penalty spot after Pablo Zabeleta tripped Jack Cork. Lambert confidently converted for his 12th goal of the season.
City regained the lead in stoppage time when Toure played a pass to Dzeko whose flick released David Silva who was yards offside. He squared the ball for Nasri to slot home from six yards, his ninth of the campaign.
And there was a second goal in added time as Dzeko headed home a left-wing cross from Aleksandar Kolarov at the far post, his 21st goal of the season.
City had chances to add a fourth goal after the restart when Toure had a penalty appeal rejected – replays showed he had been shoved in the back by Fonte while Dzeko and Jesus Navas were denied by keeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
Saints ought to have halved the deficit with 15 minutes left, but he pulled his shot wide of the far post when it looked as though he could not miss.
City added a fourth not long after when substitute Jovetic, who had only been on the field for less than four minutes, found the net with a far post tap in following a right-wing cross from Nvas.
They had chances to add a fifth goal when Alvaro Negredo, also a late substitute, was denied by a great block by Gazzaniga after the striker was put clean through while a drive from Toure struck an upright.