Manchester City booked their place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup as they emphatically dispatched Southampton 4-1 at St Mary’s.
City took the lead after just 12 minutes, with Jack Stephens’ mistake at the back for Southampton punished. Gabriel Jesus intercepted his poor clearance before laying the ball off to Raheem Sterling inside the box. The attacker then scored with an easy tap-in from close range beyond Fraser Forster.
City should have been two up just before the half-hour mark, as Ilkay Gundogan smacked the post from just a few yards out.
That missed chance proved costly as Southampton found a fortuitous equaliser in first-half stoppage time, as Aymeric Laporte strangely flicked Mohammed Elyounoussi’s cross into his own net.
City were awarded a penalty halfway through the second half as Mohammed Salisu tripped Jesus in the box. Kevin De Bruyne dispatched the resulting spot-kick underneath the outstretched arm of Forster to restore City’s advantage.
Pep Guardiola’s side then put themselves out of reach with a three-minute double salvo with 15 minutes to go. Phil Foden added City’s third with an outstanding finish from the edge of the area, before Riyad Mahrez added the fourth with a superb low finish at the near post to complete the rout.
TALKING POINT – SCORELINE FLATTERS MANCHESTER CITY
From the outside looking in, the 4-1 scoreline probably comes across an easy day at the office for Manchester City, but this was not the case.
Southampton started the game the better in the opening exchanges, and proved to be a threat with quick transitions and their pressing. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side also hit the woodwork, and had a key chance saved, as Che Adam’s effort from close range was stopped by Zack Steffen.
However, once the Saints conceded the third goal late on in the second half, the momentum shifted, and Manchester City were able to turn on the style. Although the scoreline is somewhat deceiving, some of the football that Pep Guardiola’s side played at times was outstanding, and City really are a joy to watch.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – RAHEEM STERLING
This was an incredibly difficult one to pick, as four or five Manchester City players were deserving of this accolade for their performances. Sterling just shades it as he got on the scoresheet, and proved to be a handful for the Southampton defence with his dribbling.
Sterling gave his side the lead shortly after the ten minute mark, with a good finish from inside the area. In addition to his goalscoring exploits, the 27-year-old made two key passes and made five successful dribbles – double the amount of any other player on the pitch.
Southampton: Forster 5, Livramento 7, Stephens 5, Salisu 6, Walker-Peters 6, S. Armstrong 6, Romeu 7, Ward-Prowse 6, Elyounoussi 6, A. Armstrong 6, Long 6. Subs: Diallo 6, Adams 6, Smallbone 6, Djenepo 6, Broja 6.
Manchester City: Steffen 6, Cancelo 7, Laporte 6, Stones 7, Walker 7, Gundogan 8, Rodri 7, De Bruyne 7, Sterling 8, Grealish 6, Jesus 7. Subs: Foden 7, Zinchenko 6, Ake 6, Fernandinho 6, Mahrez 7.
9’ – OFF THE POST! Southampton hit the frame of the goal! Livramento does really well to win two consecutive challenges on the right flank, before playing the ball to Long alongside him. He passes it to Romeu, who threads in Adam Armstrong with a superb ball in behind, but his low shot rolls across the face of goal and hits the far post before coming back out.
26′ – OFF THE POST! – City hit the frame of the goal! Grealish plays the ball to an overlapping Cancelo beside him on the left. He drops his shoulder and arrows in a low cross to the near post, but Gundogan’s effort comes off the back off the woodwork from a couple of yards out!
45+1’ – OWN GOAL! (Aymeric Laporte OG) – With the very last kick of the first-half, Saints are level! Laporte has turned the ball into his own net! Elyounoussi makes a brilliant run in behind and is played in by Stuart Armstrong. Steffen comes off his line to force him wide, so he tries to pull it back across goal but Laporte gets hit and the ball bounces over the line and it goes in!
61’ – PENALTY TO CITY! – City have a penalty! Jesus goes down after getting clipped by Salisu in the box. It looked soft, but there was contact there and Mike Dean points to the spot.
75′ – GOAL! (Phil Foden) – What a strike by Foden! Outstanding. Some neat one-touch interplay on the edge of the box sees the ball cannon off Salisu after a shot, with Foden taking the ball on the rebound. He takes a touch, and hits a brilliant strike into the corner of the net. What a goal!