MAN CITY 0, SOUTHAMPTON 0
Free-scoring Manchester City’s cutting edge was finally blunted by a stoic display from Southampton.
City, who had scored 16 goals in their previous three home games, were strangely out of sorts as they managed only one goal attempt on target in the 90 minutes.
And it was a hard earned and well-deserved draw from Saints as they set up to frustrate and stop City’s usual fluent football as they ended a run of 30 Premier League games without a draw.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s game plan was perfectly executed as Saints, beaten 5-2 on their last visit to the Etihah, restricted City to minimal chances.
And the only scare came in the 90th minute when Raheem Sterling had a goal ruled out for offside.
Substitute Phil Foden’s header from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross was brilliant saved by Alex McCarthy and Sterling, following up, netted from almost on the line, but VAR disallowed the goal.
It would have been a travesty had Saints not taken something from the game, especially as they were earlier awarded a penalty and had Kyle Walker sent only for both decisions to be overturned.Embed from Getty Images
Guardiola admitted his side was below par, explaining: “I would have loved more time to recover and prepare from Wednesday.
“We did not have that freshness, even though we had four or five new players. Sometimes you have these days.
“We didn’t shoot much. We weren’t clinical in the final third and we need to create more.
“We were not clever and were sloppy and that is why we had this result, but compliments to Southampton. We move forward.”
Hassenhuttl described it was a “near perfect day” and visiting teams need an element of luck which they did not have.
He said: “When you play like we did in the second half and the crowd started to boo, you know you are doing something right.
“Everything worked fantastically against one of the best teams in the world and I am very proud what my team did today, and we deserved to take something from the game.”
Saints’ captain James Ward-Prowse said: “We wanted to come here this weekend and be brave. We have gone toe to toe with them before and they are not used to playing teams that press high get after them and have a go.
“We had great week in terms of preparation and that preparation paid off and we got a really good, hard-fought point against a great team.”
On the overtured penalty and red card, he explained: “It was a strange one for me that it can go from a red card and penalty to absolutely nothing. Surely there has got to be something in between.
“What was more important in that moment and when De Bruyne came on, you could feel the energy lift inside the place, but we remained calm and stuck to the game plan. That could have been a big turning point for them, but we used it to our advantage – stayed cool and stayed calm and saw the game through.”
And on Sterling’s disallowed goal, Ward-Prowse added: “It’s a hard one – we have seen a lot of marginal offsides given and I think the benefit of the doubt goes to the strikers now days. It went our way today and we will take the point.”
Guardiola made five changes from the side that hit six goals against RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Kyle Walker, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus and Sterling came into the side, with Sterling starting his first game since the opening weekend of the season.
Oleksandr Zinchenko, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Ferran Torres and Riyad Mahrez were the players making way – Zinchenko and Rodri were not even on the bench while Aymeric Laporte and John Stones were still injured.
Hasenhuttl made three changes from the team that drew 0-0 with West Ham last weekend.
Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek and Che Adams came in for Romain Perraud, Mohamed Salisu and Moussa Djenepo.
After the electrifying nine-goal midweek match, the start to this game was decidedly low key as Saints nullified the threat from City who had scored 16 goals in their last three home matches with one observer describing them as ‘lethargic’.
Sterling cut in from the left and bent a shot well wide mid-half which summed up City’s early showing.
Jesus had a shot which was heading until Jan Bednarak headed clear while City fired several dangerous ball low across the face of goal with nobody able to get on the end of them,
City didn’t manage a shot on target in 45 minutes, a rarity. Indeed, Saints had the only effort which had to be saved as Ederson easily dealt with a weak shot from Mohamed Elyounoussi.
Che Adams had another chance for Saints early in the second half but dragged his shot narrowly wide.
There was the first drama of the match after an hour when Saints were awarded a penalty only to have it overturned.
Armstrong went down under a challenge from Kyle Walker as referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot and sent off the right back.
The incident was reviewed by VAR, but Martin Atkinson could not make a decision and referred Moss to the pitchside monitor.
And Moss’s decision was to overturn his original decision and revoke the red card to a huge roar from the home fans.
City, still without a goal attempt on target after more than one hour, withdrew Fernandinho, Jesus and Bernardo Silva over a seven-minute period as De Bruyne, Mahrez and Foden made their entrances.
City had their own penalty appeal rejected after Sterling went down in the box under a challenge from Bednarak, but Moss waved play on.
Saints opened up City’s defence with a neat passing move which ended with Armstrong shooting weakly at Ederson.
The 90 minutes were almost up when Sterling had his goal ruled out with replays proving he had strayed offside..