Saints fall to last-gasp City defeat

By SFC Media time Wed 29 Nov Man City v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Nathan Redmond
Wed 29 Nov 8PM
Premier League
Manchester City
De Bruyne [47'] Sterling [90+6']
Romeu [75']
Kompany (36')
yellow card
Long (66')
Referee: Paul Tierney | Venue: Etihad Stadium | Attendance: 53,407

A disciplined Southampton performance fell agonisingly short of halting Manchester City’s winning run, which was extended to 19 games in all competitions courtesy of Raheem Sterling’s last-gasp goal at the Etihad Stadium.

Saints, operating with a five-man defence and two strikers, looked solid throughout whilst carrying a counter-attacking threat with pace on the break.

The visitors even carved out the two best chances of the first half, only to fall behind to Kevin De Bruyne’s deflected free kick two minutes after the restart.

Fraser Forster made important saves from Gabriel Jesus and De Bruyne as City hunted a second, but Oriol Romeu pounced after a fine piece of play from substitute Sofiane Boufal to equalise with 15 minutes to go.

It looked like being enough to earn a point at the home of the runaway Premier League leaders, only for Sterling to curl in a heart-breaking winner in the sixth minute of added time.

Mauricio Pellegrino made five changes to his side, despite Sunday’s comprehensive 4-1 victory over Everton at St Mary’s.

The Saints boss switched to a 5-3-2 formation, with Maya Yoshida, Mario Lemina, Nathan Redmond, Shane Long and Romeu all handed opportunities from the start.

Steven Davis, James Ward-Prowse, Dušan Tadić, Sofiane Boufal and Charlie Austin were the unlucky quintet to miss out.

The game plan was clear. Saints were content to sit deep, with the midfielders cutting off spaces between the lines, but brave enough to leave Redmond and Long forward to pose a counter-attacking threat.

It was a tactic that threatened to pay dividends in the 15th minute, as Long escaped and crossed low towards his strike partner, only for Vincent Kompany to concede a corner.

From Ryan Bertrand’s delivery, Yoshida flicked on and Wesley Hoedt somehow contrived to head against the crossbar from no more than five yards.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: Southampton’s Maya Yoshida challenges Manchester City keeper Ederson in the air during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on November 29, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Saints caused problems for the City defence from set-pieces

It was a golden chance, but Saints could easily have found themselves behind within a matter of seconds, as City broke at frightening speed.

Sterling forced Forster to parry his shot, before Jesus reacted quickest on the rebound to send Forster stooping at his near post.

The Saints keeper was called upon to make another fairly routine stop, this time from Fernandinho, before De Bruyne’s fierce cross was headed over by Nicolas Otamendi from close range.

Having been contained in the early part of the game, City were beginning to purr. Forster denied Jesus with his legs and breathed a sigh of relief when Ilkay Gundogan sent the follow-up into the side-netting.

Saints may have been conceding the bulk of possession, but still posed a threat on the counter-attack. 

Redmond combined with Lemina, who won a corner when Ederson shovelled his shot wide of the near post.

Set-pieces were presenting a problem for the hosts, who were worried again when Virgil van Dijk nodded down Redmond’s corner and Yoshida instinctively volleyed over from another very kind opening.

But all Saints’ good work would come undone just 77 seconds into the second half, as De Bruyne whipped in a free kick at pace from the left towards Otamendi that beat Forster via the shin of van Dijk at the near post.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: Southampton’s Oriol Romeu(centre left) celebrates with his team mates during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on November 29, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Oriol Romeu drew Saints level in the 75th minute

Pellegrino spoke before kick-off about the need to stay in the game as long as possible, and Forster played his part by making his two best saves to date in quick succession.

First Sergio Aguero fed Jesus, who was impressively denied one on one by Forster’s outstretched left hand, before De Bruyne’s 25-yarder was plucked out of the top corner by the big shot-stopper.

Pellegrino introduced Boufal for Pierre-Emile Højbjerg in a bid to turn the tide, but sustained possession was proving even harder to come by since the opening goal.

There was always a chance Saints would get one opportunity to strike back, which duly arrived 15 minutes from time.

Bertrand’s deep cross from the left was brilliantly taken in his stride by Boufal, who skipped away from Kompany and pulled the ball back for Romeu, who kept his head to equalise with an emphatic finish off the underside of the crossbar from ten yards.

Pellegrino lost Cédric to injury with three minutes left, prompting a tactical reshuffle as Sam McQueen entered the fray, but Saints looked like holding on until Sterling curled home from 20 yards to spark jubilant scenes at the Etihad.

Manchester City

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Manchester City

Ederson (GK)
Nicolás Otamendi
Kyle Walker
Vincent Kompany (C) yellow card
Fabian Delph
Ilkay Gündogan
replace Bernardo Silva (80′)
Kevin De Bruyne goal
Raheem Sterling goal
Gabriel Jesus
replace David Silva (74′)
Sergio Agüero
Bernardo Silva
Oleksandr Zinchenko
David Silva
Brahim Diaz
Claudio Bravo
Eliaquim Mangala


Fraser Forster (GK)
Wesley Hoedt
Ryan Bertrand
Cédric Soares
replace Sam McQueen (87′)
Maya Yoshida (C)
Virgil van Dijk
Mario Lemina
Oriol Romeu goal
Nathan Redmond
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
replace Sofiane Boufal (64′)
Shane Long yellow card
replace Charlie Austin (83′)
Steven Davis
Sam McQueen
Alex McCarthy
Manolo Gabbiadini
Dusan Tadic
Charlie Austin
Sofiane Boufal
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