Manchester City recorded their eighth Premier League win of the season with a 2-1 win over Southampton, however it wasn’t a straightforward afternoon for Pep Guardiola's side.
The Blues did fall behind early on through a James Ward-Prowse strike, but second-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Kyle Walker secured the win for the Champions, keeping them in touching distance of leaders Liverpool, who also had a dramatic 2-1 win of their own.
Story of the game
As to be expected it was the home side who started on the front foot at a wet and windy Etihad Stadium, but they were given a serious shock 15 minutes in.
A Stuart Armstrong strike from 18 yards zipped across the saturated Etihad pitch and proved too hot for Ederson, who spilled the effort into the path of Ward-Prowse, and he smashed home from close range to give his side a surprise lead.
Just as the Blues fell behind news filtered through that their title rivals, Liverpool had also fell behind at Villa Park resulting in a huge roar from the City faithful.
This seemed to spur Pep Guardiola’s side on, however their constant barrage going forward seemed to be lacking an end product as the Saints continued to weather the City storm.
The Champions continued to knock on the away side’s door and came close through the unlikely source of John Stones, as he latched onto to a trademark Kevin De Bruyne cross to head just over from six yards out.
Guardiola’s side had scored in their last 14 outings against the Saints, but they couldn’t find a breakthrough in the first 45 in this one, as they away side went in a goal to the good at half time.
After the break, it was clear to see that the City boss wasn’t pleased with his side’s first-half showing as frontman Gabriel Jesus replaced, skipper David Silva at the break.
City continued their dominance but the away side continued to stand strong, denying any real opening to the frustration of the home supporters.
This frustration even filtered through to Guardiola, as the City boss was seen running 30 yards out of his technical area, down the line to retrieve the ball as Southampton looked to run down the clock.
The Champions finally had that clear chance they were searching for with just under half an hour left on the clock, but somehow the usually deadly Aguero failed to hit the target with a header from six yards, after being found unmarked by a curling Angelino cross.
Five minutes later however, the all-time City top scorer made up for his miss as he levelled things up. A fierce, low ball from Walker was met by the Argentine and his first-time effort flew past Alex McCarthy for his ninth league goal of the season.
The equaliser only spurred on the Champions and they came close to netting a second through Bernardo Silva. The ball was pulled back to the unmarked Portuguese international who’s effort from 12 yards was superbly saved by McCarthy.
Minutes after his heroics McCarthy nearly cost his side dearly as he picked up a back pass from Jack Stephens in bizarre fashion after Lee Mason stopped, then restarted play after the ball struck him on the back.
The following indirect free-kick was set up for De Bruyne, whose curling effort evaded the nine-man Southampton wall and the far post to the agony of the Etihad Stadium.
However, this agony soon turned to ecstasy as the Blues finally had the lead. A low deflected ball across the Southampton box was met by the on running Walker, who smashed home through the grasp of McCarthy for his first Premier League goal of the season.
With time now against Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side they began to frantically push for a second, however this nearly cost them a third at the other end as a loose ball allowed City to counter and set up Jesus who’s one-on-one effort was well stopped by McCarthy.
Despite the miss, City held on to take all three points in a thrilling encounter at the Etihad Stadium.
City stay in touching distance
It was clear to see that the Manchester City faithful know every point is an important one in their efforts to catch up league leaders, Liverpool with the passion from the home supporters clear to see after Walker's winner, and despite Liverpool's late win at Villa Park, the Champions' victory means they still stay six points behind heading into next week's top-of-the-table clash.
Improvements for Saints
Despite the defeat, Southampton looked a totally different side to the one which was humiliated by Leicester eight days earlier. They may not have come away with any points from the Etihad but they did come away with huge amounts of pride after a gutsy performance.