- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 07 December 2013 16:52
- Posted by @dclayton_mcfc
City were happy to settle for a 1-1 draw after a patchy performance away to Southampton.
Sergio Aguero had given the Blues an early lead and might have had another before the Saints fought their way back into a game they might well have won on another day.
Pablo Osvaldo’s sublime equaliser just before the break came after a period of intense pressure from the hosts and they went close to taking the lead on a couple of occasions in the second-half as City, at times, rode their luck.
But on a day when United and Chelsea suffered surprise defeats, a point in the backyard of one of this season’s pacesetters is nothing to be sniffed at.
St Mary’s was the scene of the Blues’ worst display of last season and arguably it ended any lingering hopes of retaining the title.
So abject was the manner of the 3-1 defeat earlier this year, it was important that City exorcised one or two demons on this occasion and the early exchanges suggested that was how things may actually pan out
...Saints 1 City 1...
The Blues began brightly, as they had done against West Brom in midweek, with crisp incisive passing and good movement so when the visitors took the lead on ten minutes, it was no real surprise.
The Saints, with three defeats on the bounce, had looked leggy and flat from the off and when Aleks Kolarov’s pinpoint how cross from the left was turned in by Aguero, it looked as the City could go on and claim back-to-back wins on the road.
But when Aguero spurned the chance to double the lead just on the half-hour mark by lashing an excellent pull-back by Pablo Zabaleta over the bar, the hosts seemed to take heart and began to play the kind of football that, until recently, has seen them a regular fixture in the top four of the Premier League.
Jay Rodriguez and Anthony Lalana began to find space in front of City’s back four and after looking fairly comfortable up to that point, the Saints began exposing the Blues who began to look vulnerable to the home side’s counter- attacks.
With the pressure mounting before the break and City increasingly hanging on, Southampton finally equalised on 42 minutes when Osvaldo held off two challenges from Vincent Kompany before checking back in the box and curling a beauty over Costel Pantilimon. It had been coming.
The Blues were struggling to contain the Saints’ trickery and movement and the pattern continued after the break with Rodriguez in particular showing the kind of form that won him a recent England call-up.
City had their moments, however, with Aguero and Samir Nasri the best attacking outlets and Yaya Toure, strangely subdued for much of the game and eventually substituted, fired a powerful shot just a foot wide in-between efforts from Rodriguez and Osvaldo who both had gone close.
The Blues threatened occasionally, but this was generally a below-par display by Pellegrini’s men with none of the cut and thrust that has blown away all-comers recently
...Saints 1 City 1...
There’s still work to be done on the road, though to leave St Mary’s with a point having not been at their best - and against a very good Southampton side - is hardly cause for complaint.