Ilkay Gundogan hailed Raheem Sterling as “unbelievable” after his Manchester City team-mate netted yet another dramatic late winner.
Sterling maintained his recent habit of scoring in the closing moments – this time six minutes into injury time – as the Premier League leaders snatched a 2-1 victory over Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
It was the fourth time Sterling had pulled off such a feat this season after recent late clinchers against Feyenoord and Huddersfield as well as at Bournemouth earlier in the season.
In addition to that Everton, Watford, Shakhtar Donetsk and Napoli have also succumbed to him inside the last eight minutes of games while in total, Sterling has struck 13 goals this campaign.
His latest effort was arguably the pick of them, a curling shot from the edge of the area earning City a 12th straight league win and restoring an eight-point lead at the top of the table.
“The way he scored was just incredible, especially in the last seconds of the game,” said midfielder Gundogan.
“It is not easy to do that and he is playing an unbelievable season. He was definitely the main man out there and we are so happy to have him.
“I guess this why we play football, why everybody loves to watch football. We feel so happy after that second goal. It was a really good day for us.”
City’s overall winning run now stretches to a club-record 19 games with struggling West Ham the next opponents on Sunday.
But Southampton, like Huddersfield last weekend, at least found a way to make it tough for Pep Guardiola’s side by defending deep and limiting their threat to occasional counter-attacks and set-pieces.
They went close in the first half when Wesley Hoedt hit the bar and Maya Yoshida headed over but City also had numerous chances, several of them kept out by Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
The hosts eventually broke through after 47 minutes when Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick was deflected in by Virgil van Dijk but Saints threatened to grab an unlikely point after Oriol Romeu levelled 15 minutes from time.
“We were against a really tough opponent,” said Gundogan, who made his first Premier League start of the season. “We didn’t really expect them to defend 90 minutes like they did and they created two or three dangerous situations after corners.
“That was not so easy but, all in all, I think we performed well. We are just really happy we have won the game and we just continue with our winning series.”
Southampton’s defeat was their third in four games and left them 11th in the table but manager Mauricio Pellegrino saw some good signs.
He said: “That’s something that is one of my goals with this club, to be really competitive regardless of the opponent or the pitch.
“To be competitive is about spirit and about character, which is what we had and I am really proud of my players.”