Stacked with spirit
Lambert and Ward-Prowse caught the eye at the Etihad, says Niall
Last Updated: August 19, 2012 7:05pm
Front and centre: Saints striker Lambert pressured City's rearguard in the second half
Niall Quinn praised Southampton's attitude after the top-flight new boys narrowly lost to Man City in a thriller at the Etihad Stadium.
"Southampton didn't just sit back and hope that they got something, and when the time was right their manager was astute enough to take City on."
Niall Quinn Quotes of the week
Nigel Adkins' side went a goal down after 40 minutes on their return to the elite division, but rallied in the second period and took a surprise 2-1 lead against reigning Premier League champions City with goals from substitutes Rickie Lambert and Steve Davis.
But after Edin Dzeko had levelled matters, Samir Nasri popped up with the winner 10 minutes from time, in a game almost as eye-catching as the Citizens' duel with QPR on the final day of the last campaign.
"Everyone was saying this game was going to be so difficult for Southampton and that it was going to be a walk in the park for Man City - but it didn't happen that way at all," Quinn told Super Sunday.
"Fair play to Southampton; they played with spirit and have already brought something to the Premier League. It was almost as if their manager's character was out there, with the optimism and belief that they showed.
"Southampton didn't just sit back and hope that they got something, and when the time was right their manager was astute enough to take City on. From then on it was like a boxing match with both teams slugging it to try and win the game. It was incredible."
Quinn believes the introduction of Lambert was the key factor behind Southampton gaining a foothold in the contest, but he also acknowledged the display of 17-year-old Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse.
"Lambert will probably start a lot of games at home to try and get an early goal for Southampton, " added Quinn. "But today I think the manager got it right [to put him on the bench], and when City had one or two tired legs he came on and was the joker in the pack; he really rattled Roberto Mancini's men.
"Ward-Prowse brilliant; I watched him off the ball and his energy and enthusiasm was great, while he was also the first to react when other players gave the ball away or made a mistake. He has got a great attitude and a great future ahead of him."
Quinn's fellow Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp was equally impressed by the South Coast outfit, but he says their opponents, City, will have their fingers crossed that Sergio Aguero, who was stretchered off early on with a suspected knee injury, returns to action soon.
"Southampton were very much like Swansea in the way that they played out from the back and they will be thinking: 'We can deal with the Premier League'," said the one-time Liverpool man.
"City's extra quality told today; they have got players that can make those vital changes in a match, and players like Dzeko and Mario Balotelli who can come one and alter a game at any given second.
"They will be hoping that Aguero is okay, though, because of all the forwards they have got he is the least volatile and the one you can rely on the most. If he is out for any space of time, you have to rely on Carlos Tevez and Balotelli - and then anything can happen."