Saturday, May 28

Aymeric Laporte saves Manchester City’s blushes in the fight against Southampton | Premier league


It must have felt a bit peculiar at full time for Manchester City as they left the pitch for the first time without the full complement of points in a Premier League match for the first time since October.

They failed to extend their winning streak to 13 games but avoided defeat after Aymeric Laporte headed the equalizer in the second half to open a 12-point lead over second-placed Liverpool.

Southampton faded and survived two late VAR calls, the first for a possible penalty when Kevin De Bruyne headed into the box and the second for a red card on Stuart Armstrong. Both seemed like sensible calls, and Santos deserved to get something out of a lively match for his efforts.

Many see Pep Guardiola as a magician, but here it was almost about predicting the future. Before kick-off, he stuck to a familiar script, insisting his team are not invincible and would lose points, and reiterated that the most important thing to him is how City react when they find themselves in a trouble spot.

Then, almost inevitably, with seven minutes to go, just as City were stamping their authority on the game, they fell behind in a game from the Southampton side who seemed determined to be the one to stop a winning streak that had seen City winning their previous 12 matches by an aggregate score of 34-7. It was also a good goal. Kyle Walker-Peters advanced from the right flank and hit a perfect brace with Nathan Redmond, controlling the return pass with his left foot before, with his next touch, flicking the ball into the far corner with the outside of his boot. right. .

Kyle Walker-Peters beats Ederson with sublime strike to give Southampton the lead
Kyle Walker-Peters beats Ederson with a sublime strike to give Southampton the lead. Photograph: Matt Watson/Southampton FC/Getty Images

What was irritating for Guardiola, who at one point was comfortable crouching on the edge of his technical area in a black coat and brogues, was that City let an opportunity slip seconds before. City succinctly switched the ball from left to right, but Raheem Sterling missed the key pass after seeing Kyle Walker in the overlap.

Sterling was also guilty of losing a decent opening, flying off after cutting Che Adams, but Southampton had Fraser Forster to thank for preventing City equalising. Phil Foden sent in a provocative cross from the left flank, which Romain Perraud was unable to clear and, just when it looked like Sterling would take advantage of it, the Southampton supporters in the chapel stand behind goal gasped in unison as the ball found its way. towards the goal. back post: a sprawling Forster saved with his legs.

Guardiola was able to afford a wry smile as he headed down the tunnel at half-time and the score would have been worse if Armando Broja had been on the line when commander Oriol Romeu, who Guardiola made his Barcelona debut for, put the striker on the goal with a wonderful direct pass in the 23rd minute. Broja slipped behind Walker but had strayed slightly offside.

The home support were back on their feet five minutes later in anticipation of a penalty when the referee, Simon Hooper, put his whistle in his mouth after Ederson brushed Broja when the striker pounced on Adams’ pass in the box. , only to award City. a free kick for offside.

Southampton had no desire to hold onto their lead and, a couple of minutes after the restart, Ederson shoved Jan Bednarek’s header from a James Ward-Prowse corner to safety.

City were throwing the ball around, with Jack Grealish operating down the middle like a false nine, committing the odd foul, but the hosts, not for the first time, came closer to doubling their lead before City began to dissect to your opponent. Another Ward-Prowse corner wreaked havoc in the City area and Broja headed into a post from a courtyard. Guardiola had seen enough and called Gabriel Jesus, who replaced Sterling.

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Rodri fired a shot into the roof of the Southampton goal earlier and Foden saw a volleying effort repelled by Forster as City tried to push through the gears.

Then came the equalizer that turned the momentum in favor of City. De Bruyne took a free kick towards the far post, where there was a scattering of navy blue shirts, and Laporte finished off with a header. Guardiola clenched his fists and hugged his assistant, Juanma Lillo.

From there, City refused to hand the ball back to Southampton and the visitors advanced. De Bruyne could only bite his lip in frustration after a curling shot hit the woodwork and Guardiola put his head in his hands when Jesus headed into a post with the goal open.

City would not go quietly, but Southampton held on for six minutes of second-half injury time.


www.theguardian.com

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