Saints safe despite last-gasp defeat

By SFC Media time Sun 13 May Saints v Man City
Photo by Matt Watson | Wesley Hoedt
Sun 13 May 3PM
Premier League
Manchester City
Jesus [90+4']
Ward-Prowse (71') Soares (90+1') Højbjerg (90+1')
yellow card
Jesus (90+4') Ederson (90+4')
Referee: Andre Marriner | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 31,882

Southampton cruelly signed off the great escape with defeat to Manchester City inflicted by Gabriel Jesus’s clever lob deep into stoppage time at St Mary’s, but the absence of a miracle goal swing at Swansea ensures the club has maintained its Premier League status for a seventh successive season.

Saints showed no signs of complacency with another dogged display to keep out the Premier League’s record goalscorers for more than 90 minutes.

The greatest compliment you could pay to Mark Hughes’s men is that Alex McCarthy remained largely untested throughout, though his left-hand post was rattled by Raheem Sterling on the hour.

By that point Saints had already hit the woodwork themselves, through Wesley Hoedt’s early header, while Dušan Tadić was denied by Fernandinho’s goal-line clearance 13 minutes from time as deadlock remained.

Hughes made a solitary enforced change to his side who showed such spirit to win crucially at Swansea in midweek.

Jan Bednarek, the man replaced by match-winner Manolo Gabbiadini at the Liberty Stadium, was not risked following concussion, so Maya Yoshida returned from suspension to slot in at the heart of the back three.

Relieved of the pressure that has brought out the best in them in recent weeks, Saints showcased a freedom in their play and attacked the runaway champions from the start.

Jack Stephens embarked on a solo run deep into City territory that brought St Mary’s to its feet even before he tested stand-in keeper Claudio Bravo for the first time.

Bravo was beaten soon after, as Hoedt met Tadić’s floated corner at the near post, but his header struck the crossbar and bounced back into play.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Nathan Redmond(R) of Southampton skips past Danilo of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester City at St Mary's Stadium on May 13, 2018 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Nathan Redmond skips past Man City right-back Danilo on the wing

It would take the visitors ten minutes to settle into their stride. When their use of the ball improved, you could see the quality on show, but Saints were plugging every gap and City’s pursuit of space in behind the defence was proving tricky.

When a goalkeeper was sent scrambling midway through the first half it was Bravo, not the still untroubled Alex McCarthy.

Ryan Bertrand delivered a free kick from the left that took a touch off a City head, forcing Hoedt to adjust before shooting wide of the near post.

When 23-goal England man Sterling did find room to at least run at the Saints defence, if not behind it, he was invited to shoot from 25 yards and fired over.

City’s typical fluency was lacking, and when Bernardo Silva misplaced a pass his frustration was visible, clasping his hands to his face.

Saints were already doing their bit, but news of Stoke coming from behind to lead at Swansea certainly helped lift any remaining tension among the home supporters.

Hughes was wise to expect a City improvement in the second half. Kevin De Bruyne’s teasing cross flashed beyond everyone inside the penalty area and only just past the post.

Then Aymeric Laporte stepped out of defence and cracked a shot that knocked Stephens clean off his feet, but the Saints man had done his job in stopping it at source.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Dusan Tadic of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester City at St Mary's Stadium on May 13, 2018 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Dušan Tadić came agonisingly close to firing Saints in front late on

Still clear chances were at a premium for the Premier League’s highest-ever scorers, who set a new landmark of 105 in the week.

If they were to reach three figures in the points column City would have to score, and Saints were living dangerously when Sterling tiptoed into the box and finally pulled the trigger to beat McCarthy via a deflection with a shot that struck the post.

When McCarthy tipped over a John Stones header almost immediately after, Hughes saw fit to turn to his bench for the first time and make a double change.

On came the willing running of Shane Long and James Ward-Prowse in place of Charlie Austin and Nathan Redmond to freshen things up.

Ward-Prowse’s duties were likely to be primarily defensive, but the midfielder wasted no time in breaking into the box to meet a Bertrand cross with a header that just lacked the necessary power to beat the diving Bravo.

Saints were gaining encouragement, and Tadić twisted Bravo in knots to engineer a shooting chance after evading the offside trap, but his driven effort was cleared to safety by the covering Fernandinho on the goal line.

There were no major alarms at the other end as the clock ticked down towards the extension of Saints’ unbeaten run, as McCarthy rushed out to snatch the ball from substitute Jesus just before three added minutes were signalled.

It would prove just enough time for Jesus to make a similar run off the back of the defence, showing exceptional composure to kill a dropping ball and lift it over the stranded McCarthy to spark jubilant scenes from the triumphant visitors, who had hit the 100-point mark with virtually the last kick.

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Head to Head Stats

Manchester City
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Alex McCarthy (GK)
Maya Yoshida
Jack Stephens
Ryan Bertrand (C)
replace Sam McQueen (81′)
Wesley Hoedt
Cédric Soares yellow card
Oriol Romeu
Nathan Redmond
replace James Ward-Prowse (64′) yellow card
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg yellow card
Dusan Tadic
Charlie Austin
replace Shane Long (64′)
James Ward-Prowse
Sam McQueen
Shane Long
Josh Sims
Fraser Forster
Jérémy Pied
Manolo Gabbiadini

Manchester City

Claudio Bravo (GK)
Fabian Delph
replace Gabriel Jesus (59′) yellow card goal
John Stones
Aymeric Laporte
Fernandinho (C)
Ilkay Gündogan
replace Phil Foden (82′)
Kevin De Bruyne
Raheem Sterling
Bernardo Silva
replace Brahim Diaz (78′)
Leroy Sané
Gabriel Jesus
Oleksandr Zinchenko
Vincent Kompany
Phil Foden
Brahim Diaz
Kyle Walker
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