Southampton 1-3 Manchester City: City end slump to reclaim second place
Report and highlights as Pep Guardiola's side warm up for Sky Live Liverpool showdown with victory
Last Updated: 31/12/18 6:19am
Manchester City rallied from successive defeats to reassert themselves in the Premier League title race with a 3-1 win over Southampton at St Mary's.
David Silva's 10th-minute opener was scant reward for City's slick early play, yet Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg - who was later sent off - threatened another troubling afternoon for the champions when he lashed Saints level (37).
But the game turned back decisively in a dramatic end to the first half as James Ward-Prowse, after being denied a penalty, diverted into his own net (45), before Sergio Aguero struck (45+3) to seal a result that lifts City back into second.
Pep Guardiola's side had surrendered the title initiative to Liverpool during a cheerless December featuring three league defeats, but they head into Thursday's showdown with the leaders seven points behind, knowing victory in front of the Sky Sports cameras could trim an ominous gap to four points.
Southampton: McCarthy (7), Ramsey (6), Bednarek (6), Stephens (5), Targett (6), Romeu (7), Elyounoussi (6), Lemina (6), Hojbjerg (6), Ward-Prowse (6), Austin (6).
Subs: Long (6), Redmond (6), Valery (6).
Man City: Ederson (7), Danilo (7), Kompany (6), Laporte (6), Zinchenko (6), Bernardo Silva (7), Fernandinho (7), Silva (8), Mahrez (6), Aguero (7), Sterling (7).
Subs: Jesus (6), Walker (n/a), Sane (n/a).
Man of the match: David Silva
Guardiola had talked up his stuttering side's stats ahead of the game and they started with purpose, David Silva forcing a fine save from Alex McCarthy before slotting past him soon after when namesake Bernardo and Riyad Mahrez combined.
Charlie Austin dithered when through on goal just moments before the breakthrough and City's bravado at the back might have been punished but Saints were camped in by City's one-touch weaving, Aguero thwarted by McCarthy after another sweeping move down the right.
A shift in momentum was unexpected but it came as Austin forced Ederson into a fine save with a flicked header, before Hojbjerg robbed Oleksandr Zinchenko of the ball and rifled into the roof of the net.
Key defensive midfielder Fernandinho shook off a thigh problem to return for Man City, but Kevin De Bruyne missed out again. Pep Guardiola made five changes from the 2-1 loss at Leicester, with Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Riyad Mahrez starting.
Southampton handed 18-year-old defender Kayne Ramsay his debut while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg returned in midfield and Mohamed Elyounoussi played off Charlie Austin in attack.
Guardiola slumped into his seat but the game suddenly lurched back in his side's favour. Ward-Prowse called for a penalty after tumbling under close attention from Zinchenko but straight up the other end, unwittingly prodded Raheem Sterling's cross beyond his goalkeeper.
Aguero met Zinchenko's cross minutes later and Southampton hope, having been swiftly snuffed out, never looked like reigniting.
City bossed the ball after the break but though Sterling had a series of opportunities - denied on one occasion by McCarthy's head - and Aguero hit a post, they were unable to add further gloss to the scoreline.
The tiring Saints finished with 10 men as Hojbjerg saw red (85) for a meaty challenge on Fernandinho but the game was long gone, home supporters streaming out as City's travelling fans warned Jurgen Klopp's Reds: "We'll fight to the end."
Man of the match - David Silva
Back in the starting XI, Silva opened the scoring and was City's chief creator in a largely dominant first half. He crafted four chances, was accurate with 91 per cent of his passes and has now scored home and away against the same side in a single season six times (Arsenal 13-14, Newcastle 14-15, Stoke 17-18, Swansea 17-18, WBA 14/15, Southampton 18/19).
- Manchester City have won five consecutive Premier League games against Southampton for the first time.
- Southampton have lost back to back Premier League home matches for the first time since September 2017 under Mauricio Pellegrino.
- Man City have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 10 competitive matches - their longest streak since a run of 10 ending in February 2015.
- Man City's Bernardo Silva has been directly involved in 10 goals in 19 Premier League games this season (5 goals, 5 assists), equalling his total in 2017-18 in 35 games (6 goals, 4 assists).
- Southampton's starting XI vs Man City today had an average age of 24 years & 274 days; their youngest in a Premier League match for five years (Dec 2013 vs Newcastle).
- Man City's Sergio Aguero has scored 50 Premier League goals under Pep Guardiola, 16 more than any other player has for the club under the Spaniard.
"The distance at the top is big but we want to be there as long as possible to fight for the Premier League."
"The worst thing was the red card because Hojbjerg will be out for a few weeks. Ward-Prowse penalty? It's not 100 per cent a penalty but it was a crucial moment. At 3-1 it killed the match."
While City host Liverpool in that crunch encounter at the Etihad - live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm on Thursday - Southampton travel to Chelsea on January 2. Watch in-game clips and highlights from that game, and the rest of the New Year schedule, on the Sky Sports app.