Man City showed defensive frailty but were clinical in the final third after sinking Southampton 5-2 at the Etihad.
Southampton rung the tactical changes with Ryan Bertrand and Mohammed Salisu deployed on the opposite flanks of the Saints defence.
James Ward-Prowse’s pre-match promise to put pressure on Man City was showcased in the early going. Though no clear-cut chances were crafted, the Saints surprisingly dominated the vast bulk of possession inside the opening 15 minutes.
City’s class showed on their first major attack, however, as the hosts took the lead through Kevin De Bruyne.
A long ball over the top found Oleksandr Zinchenko in behind. He fed Phil Foden who forced a smart stop from Alex McCarthy, but the goalkeeper couldonly parry into the path of De Bruyne who tapped home fro close range.
Southampton heads did not did, and following a tussle from a corner, Aymeric Laporte was adjudged to have tugged back Jannik Vestergaard for the concession of a penalty.
Ward-Prowse assumed the responsibility and drilled the ball low into the middle of the goal to make it 1-1.
City felt aggrieved at not being awarded a penalty of their own moments later when McCarthy appeared to foul Foden after poor control allowed the forward to sneak in. A brief VAR check deemed the contact insufficient to warrant a penalty.
— James Ducker (@TelegraphDucker) March 10, 2021
Ward-Prowse stung the palms of Ederson from distance, but City always looked the more dangerous in the attacking third.
That notion was proven five minutes prior to half-time when Riyad Mahrez put Man City in front after Che Adams’ errant pass surrendered possession deep within his own half.
The Algerian latched onto the ball 20 yards out and wasted no time, curling a powerful strike into the bottom corner to make it 2-1.
Pep Guardiola’s men made it 3-1 on the stroke of half time when Ilkay Gundogan notched his 14th goal of the season.
The German tapped into an empty net after Mahrez’s rebounded off the post after tormenting Salisu down the right.
⚽ @premierleague top scorers since Dec 15:
12 ILKAY GUNDOGAN
9 Bruno Fernandes
7 P-E Aubameyang
7 Harry Kane
7 Mohamed Salah pic.twitter.com/f26XLM1iS0
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 10, 2021
Man City kept their foot on the accelerator after the break and made it 4-1 with ahrez’s second of the game.
The forward received the ball inside the area and teased the Saints backline before arrowing an accurate strike inside the near post.
Straight from the restart, Southampton pulled one back as the game continued to cough up goals.
Che Adams latched on to a ricochet inside the City box and fired the ball beyond Ederson without hesitation.
The goal continued to flow as De Bruyne scored his second to make it 5-2 after neat interplay with Foden.
Guardiola rung the changes with the game seemingly safe. De Bruyne and Mahrez were both substituted despite the pair both being on hattricks.
Adams thought he’d given his side late hope of a comeback, but his superb finish was ruled out for offside.
Bernardo Silva came close to getting on the scoresheet as the game wound down, but his near miss mattered not as Man City emerged with a 5-2 victory.