Raheem Sterling scored another late winning goal as Manchester City secured a tight 2-1 win over Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The English winger struck in the 96th minute of play to ensure the gap at the top of the Premier League stayed at eight points.
The Citizens’ winning run looked to be coming to the end after Oriol Romeu had cancelled out Virgil Van Dijk’s own-goal mid-way through the second-half. Sterling though produced an excellent moment of quality in the final seconds to snatch victory for the league leaders.
Citizens slow out of the blocks
The hosts got off to a comparatively slow start at the Etihad Stadium and Southampton nearly profited as they struck the crossbar with only 14 minutes on the clock. Connecting with a corner, Wesley Hoedt stooped low and headed towards goal but struck the woodwork. The Dutchman really should have scored considering his close proximity to goal.
However, Pep Guardiola’s side did eventually ignite into life and could have gone ahead had it not been for a fantastic double save from Fraser Forster. Following a swift counter-attack, the Englishman thwarted Raheem Sterling’s low shot before he reacted to keep out Gabriel Jesus’ effort after the ball had been spilled.
The former Celtic stopper also produced a smart stop to deflect İlkay Gündoğan’s shot from inside the penalty area. The German midfielder was then unlucky to see his effort from the rebound fly just inches wide.
Saints rise just before the break
Despite all of the chances for the hosts, the Saints did carve out a few openings of their own and could well have gone ahead. Virgil Van Dijk leapt highest from a corner, knocking the ball down for fellow defender Maya Yoshida. The Japanese international though lashed at the ball and ended up scooping over the bar from only yards out.
As a result, both sides headed into half-time level.
City gifted stroke of luck as Van Dijk heads in
It did not take long however for the Premier League leaders to seize the initiative following the break as Kevin De Bruyne lined up a free-kick on the left-flank. The ball evaded a single touch from a Manchester City head but did serve to take a huge deflection off of Van Dijk and nestle into the near post.
The hosts went extremely close to doubling their lead only seconds later but Jesus fizzed his shot just wide of the upright. Gündoğan then followed suit as his effort trundled just wide of goal as City looked to build on the opening strike.
Guardiola’s men could well have been out of sight at the Etihad Stadium mid-way through the second period but Forster came to the fore yet again to preserve the 1-0 score-line. The stopper did brilliantly to deny Jesus one-on-one before deflecting De Bruyne’s thunderous shot from distance wide. Sergio Aguero somehow missed the target as he nodded over the bar unmarked only yards from goal.
Saints shock the Etihad but Sterling secures the win
With the closing period slowly but surely approaching, Southampton earned a shock equaliser via former Barcelona midfielder Oriol Romeu. Substitute Sofiane Boufal collected a loose ball at the far post. The Moroccan controlled, before pulling back and finding the Spanish midfielder who duly swept home past Ederson.
The game soon descended into a flurry of injuries and stoppages resulting in almost six minutes stoppage time. As he had done against Huddersfield Town at the weekend, Raheem Sterling capitalised to snatch yet another late winner. The former Liverpool man played a neat one-two with De Bruyne before sending a sumptuous lob over Forster and into the back of the net, triggering wild celebrations at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City just keep winning. It certainly was not a vintage performance from Guardiola’s league leaders as they struggled to by-pass Saints’ staunch defence. Raheem Sterling though picked a real moment of quality to score yet again and extend the gap back to eight points following Manchester United’s victory over Watford on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, Saints will feel unfortunate to have lost the game. They looked solid and organised at the Etihad Stadium and may well have been good value for a point following Romeu’s equaliser with only minutes to go. As a result, the South Coast outfit move up to 11th in the table.
Manchester City: Ederson (6); Walker (7), Kompany (7), Otamendi (6), Delph (6); De Bruyne (8), Fernandinho (7), Gündoğan (7) (B.Silva (N/A), 80′); Sterling (7), Aguero (6), Jesus (6) (D. Silva (6), 74′).
Southampton: Forster (7); Yoshida (6), Van Dijk (6), Hoedt (7); Soares (7) (McQueen (N/A), 87′), Højbjerg (6) (Boufal (7), 64′), Romeu (7), Lemina (7), Bertrand (6); Redmond (5), Long (5) (Austin (N/A), 83′).
Goals: Van Dijk OG (47′), Romeu (75′), Sterling (90+6′)
Referee: Paul Tierney
Yellow Cards: Kompany (36′), Long (66′)
Red Cards: N/A
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