Ralph Hasenhüttl took plenty of encouragement from a brave Southampton performance in spite of a convincing scoreline in Manchester City’s favour that did not tell the full story at the Etihad Stadium.
Saints started the game exceptionally well, leading Pep Guardiola to declare Saints “the team that made us suffer the most this season”, but City broke the deadlock 15 minutes in against the run of play.
James Ward-Prowse’s penalty deservedly levelled the scores, but the hosts struck again twice before the interval, including a telling third goal on the stroke of half-time against a much-changed Saints side that included Ryan Bertrand, Mohammed Salisu and Jack Stephens operating in unfamiliar positions.
Hasenhüttl was less enthused by his team’s second-half display, in which City extended their lead to 5-2 after Ché Adams’s poacher’s goal, but saw plenty of positives overall.
“The result is not what we hoped we would get,” he said. “If it was deserved or not, I think yes, because they had all the second half and they are so good in front of the goal.
“When we kept them far away from our goal, we had some good moments in the game I think, especially in the first half.
“Their first chance was a goal after 15 minutes – until that moment I think only we played football. The way we did this was brave, good organised and with a completely new side because we had a lot of players in different positions – more than we could expect.
“A few too many mistakes today, but I completely understand them taking these presents and scoring – this is a fact. The third goal before half-time changes the mentality and the atmosphere of the half-time.
“After half-time I was not happy, because we didn’t invest enough, we didn’t keep them away from our goal, we were too passive and sitting too deep. This is not possible for us to defend against such a team in this way because they are so good around the box.
“It was better after the changes we made. We scored two goals here, where not a lot of teams score, so I can live with this game. It was not the result we hoped, but the game was ok.”