De Bruyne, Sterling magic seals tight Man City victory at Southampton


A clinical piece of attacking play between Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling proved the difference as Man City secured a hard-fought three points versus Southampton.

Southampton – full of confidence while flying high – went toe-to-toe with their expensively assembled counterparts in the early going.

Their high press causes Man City occasional problems at the back, but was leaving them susceptible to the counter at times.

The frantic affair offered little in the way of goalmouth action, but the visitors finally clicked into gear in the 16th minute with a trademark goal.

Kevin De Bruyne was set free down the right flank before picking out Raheem Sterling in the center of the box with an inch-perfect pull-back.

The England forward made no mistake his with finish and tucked the game’s opener beyond Alex McCarthy.

Southampton heads did not drop, and their likeliest route for finding an equaliser appeared to be from set pieces.

Jannik Vestergarrd – in the form of his life this season – was causing havoc in the City box. The tactic of having winger Ferran Torres mark him on the edge of the box was clearly not working.

A major talking point then arose mid-way through the half.

Danny Ings found space in the box and attempted to latch on to Theo Walcott’s cross. Ings nodded wide, but appeared to sustain contact from Ruben Dias in the process. Despite his full-throated appeals, no penalty was forthcoming.

Ings’ bad luck would continue when appearing to suffer an injury to his leg as the interval neared.

The blow for Saints was confirmed as the centre-forward hobbled off to be replaced by Nathan Tella.

Man City’s lead was nearly doubled soon after the restart. A super ball from Joao Cancelo picked out Torres sprinting in behind down the right. The Spaniard’s effort flashed across and sent McCarthy into a full-stretch dive as the ball grazed the post.

James Ward-Prowse continued to menace City with lethal corners, and further calls for a penalty soon emerged after his set piece proved difficult to clear.

The ball bobbled up off Sterling’s knee onto his arm, but again, no penalty was awarded to the home side.

The hosts were then given a huge let-off after a mix-up between Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand.

Possession was presented to the opposition, with Bernardo Silva eventually working it to De Bruyne on the edge of the area.

The Belgian’s contact was weak, however, ensuring McCarthy could make a regulation save from a chance he would have expected to bury.

Chances continued to flow at either end, but City were able to hold on to secure a vital three points.