City edge past Saints
Samir Nasri wins it for champions
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @skygraemebailey. Last Updated: 19/08/12 9:10pm
Champions Manchester City had to come from behind to earn a 3-2 win over Southampton in an exhilarating season opener at the Etihad Stadium.
City needed Samir Nasri's last goal to salvage the win, as they looked as if they would be on the end of a huge shock.
City had gone into the break 1-0 to the good courtesy of Carlos Tevez's opener just before the interval, although slightly fortunate given he appeared offside.
MATCH FACTSMan of the Match: Samir Nasri terrorised the Southampton defence who didn't quite know where he'd pop up next. Played some probing balls around the box that always looked likely to break the Saints resolve. Decision of the Match: Nigel Adkins decision to bring last season's top scorer Rickie Lambert from the bench galvanised the Southampton side who turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead in the space of 10 minutes Goal of the Match: Rickie Lambert's goal was technically perfect. When the ball was knocked back to him on the edge of the area, he curled it gloriously away from Joe Hart's desperate dive into the corner to send Saints fans into raptures and put the belief back into the visitors Mistake of the Match: Debutant Jack Rodwell will be grateful for his team mates' revival after gifting the Saints the chance to take the lead. Under no pressure in the centre of the midfield, he gave the ball to Adam Lallana who gave it to Steven Davis to finish superbly with almost his first touch. Talking point: Will Sergio Aguero's injury cost Manchester City if he is out for any length of time? Do City have the players to cover him, in the shape of Dzeko and Balotelli? Or will Mancini strengthen before the deadline?
Nigel Adkins's men fought back and went ahead courtesy of two goals from two substitutes as Rickie Lambert levelled before Steve Davis put them ahead.
However, the Saints could not hang on as Edin Dzeko swept home the equaliser before Nasri fired home the winner with just ten-minutes left.
It was the second league game in succession that City won 3-2, as the match was a carbon copy of the never-to-be-forgotten final home game against QPR last season.
Of the team that started that momentous day in May, only Gareth Barry was missing from Roberto Mancini's starting line-up.
In his place, Jack Rodwell was introduced, although the debutant could do nothing to raise the tempo of a tepid opening with the only major incident being a worrying looking knee injury to Sergio Aguero.
The Argentina forward tumbled awkwardly under an early Nathanial Clyne tackle. Early reports were encouraging and Mancini can only hope the damage, in one of the least congested periods of the season, is not too bad.
absence when Tevez turned far too smartly for Josh Hooiveld, whose attempt to do something constructive just inside the area only sent his opponent to the turf and a penalty was given - but David Silva's poor effort was comfortably saved by Kelvin Davis.
These events, coupled with City's general lethargy, gave Southampton genuine hope of springing a surprise but they could not hang on until the interval.
Tevez could not have timed his run any better as Nasri spotted him about to dart beyond Saints' defence.
This time Jose Miguel Fonte was the defender who failed to keep tabs on his opponent, and Tevez made him pay by drilling a low shot into the near post, its power giving Davis no chance of keeping it out.
After the break City started quick with Dzeko, Gael Clichy and Silva all wasting excellent opportunities.
Southampton brought on Rickie Lambert for his Premier League debut and within minutes he levelled as he seized on a loose ball on the edge of the City box and guided it superbly into the corner of Joe Hart's goal.
Worse was to come for the hosts as when Rodwell gifted possession to Southampton inside his own half, allowing the visitors to pour forward. And another sub Davis took advantage to curl home.
The drama continued. Dzeko, who scored the stoppage-time equaliser against QPR, pulled City level with a first-time shot after Vincent Kompany's piledriver had been blocked.And 10 minutes from time, somewhat earlier than before, Nasri belted home from 12 yards to complete yet another thrilling comeback.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Southampton|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||2|
|6||Shots off Target||3|
|64||1st Half Poss.||36|
|65.6||2nd Half Poss.||34.4|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||17||31|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||17||17|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||17||17|
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