Southampton 1 Man City 1: Osvaldo with wonder strike after Aguero's early opener

By Patrick Collins

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The match had been over for more than half an hour when Manuel Pellegrini faced his public. The Manchester City manager has been through this situation a time or two, and he knew precisely what to say. ‘I think it is a good result for us. A good point. I’m not feeling that we lost two points, not at all.’

It was the reasonable reaction of a reasonable man, yet clearly he had not yet consulted his players.

For that bunch of habitual high achievers looked distinctly miffed as they slouched out of St Mary’s. The point was welcome and the title is still in focus, but the afternoon had fallen short of their expectations.

 VIDEO  Scroll down to see Manuel Pellegrini and Mauricio Pochettino's reaction

Wonder strike: Osvaldo celebrates putting Southampton level at St Mary's

Wonder strike: Osvaldo celebrates putting Southampton level at St Mary's

£15million man: Dani Osvaldo took on and beat Vincent Kompany

£15million man: Dani Osvaldo took on and beat Vincent Kompany

Stunner: Dani Osvaldo scores with a delicate chip straight over Costel Pantilimon

Stunner: Dani Osvaldo scores with a delicate chip straight over Costel Pantilimon

No chance: The ball sailed over Pantilimon and into the top corner

No chance: The ball sailed over Pantilimon and into the top corner

All smiles: Aguero (right) celebrates his goal with team-mates Samir Nasri (middle) and Vincent Kompany (right)

All smiles: Aguero (right) celebrates his goal with team-mates Samir Nasri (middle) and Vincent Kompany (right)

Red hot form: Sergio Aguero (right) gives City an early lead at St Mary's

Red hot form: Sergio Aguero (right) gives City an early lead at St Mary's

Match facts

Southampton

Southampton: Gazzaniga 5; Chambers 6, Fonte 5, Lovren 6, Shaw 8; Cork 5, S Davis 6 (Reed 90); Ward-Prowse 6, Lallana 7 (Ramírez 85), Rodriguez 6; Osvaldo 7 (Lambert 67 5).

Subs: Yoshida, Hooiveld, Gallagher, Cropper.

Goal: Osavldo 42

Man City

Man City: Pantilimon 6; Zabaleta 5, Kompany 5, Demichelis 5, Kolarov 6; Milner 5 (Javi Garcia 62 5), Yaya Toure 5 (Dzeko 79), Fernandinho 5, Nasri 5; Aguero 7, Negredo 5 (Jesus Navas 62 5).

Subs: Hart, Richards, Lescott, Clichy.

Goal: Aguero 10

Booked: Nasri, Aguero

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Attendance: 31,229

*Player ratings by Sam Cunningham at St Mary's

By contrast, Southampton bounded away as if a significant corner had been turned. Their performance had made a mockery of their recent form and their refreshing approach had been emphatically vindicated. They knew, beyond doubt, that the draw was the least they deserved.

Their manager, the increasingly impressive Mauricio Pochettino, put it succinctly.

‘We kept believing,’ he said. ‘We played the right way. We had more possession than the team with the best record of possession in the League. We did the right things.’

Again, it was a reasonable assessment of an excellent game. Having lost their previous three League matches, Southampton’s season was in danger of running off the rails.

Yet you would never have known it. After a nervous opening and the concession of a mundane goal, they remembered their principles.

Possession was prized, movement was subtle, pressing was urgent and enchanting angles were found with thoughtful passing.

To add to that pleasing list, Dani Osvaldo’s goal was something of a classic in this season of classical goals.

Small wonder that the entire place was buzzing with excitement, with genuine pleasure at seeing the game played with the respect that it merits.

A season ticket for St Mary’s is one of football’s glittering prizes this season.


Manchester City turned defence into attack for Sergio Aguero's to score for the visitors - click here to see our Match Zone service

From defence to attack: Sergio Aguero's goal after just ten minutes

Attempt: Yaya Toure fires in a shot as Dejan Lovren and Jack Cork try to block it

Attempt: Yaya Toure fires in a shot as Dejan Lovren and Jack Cork try to block it

 

Season at glance

  • Premier League
  • Premier League
  • Championship
  • League One
  • League Two
  • Scottish Premiership
  • Scottish Div 1
  • Scottish Div 2
  • Scottish Div 3

The place is awash with high promise: there is Adam Lallana, of course, whose place in Brazil is practically taken for granted, and the young full-back Luke Shaw, regularly demonstrating that he is worthy of his notices.

But on Saturday, the man who really took the eye was a player making his first League start of the season.

Jack Cork sat in front of the back four and played with quite stunning maturity. In a midfield featuring the likes of Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri, it took something special to stand out. Yet Cork performed with cool intelligence; a straight-backed, discerning, elegant player who has only to improve at his present rate to become something quite exceptional.

In fairness, these various talents were not much in evidence through those early stages, when City were treating success as the merest formality. Their goal, on 10 minutes, had been constantly threatened, but when it arrived it was really too simple.

Nasri shuffled a pass down the left, Alvaro Negredo struck a low cross which should have been cut out before it reached Sergio Aguero. The efficiency of his finish reduced it to a routine chance.

But, as their manager insisted, Southampton kept faith with their methods, while City, as Pellegrini admitted, conceded their own possession far too easily. And once the ball was won, Southampton used it with enterprise and imagination.

They trusted their skills. Repeatedly, they ran at defenders and backed themselves to get a result, convinced that something would happen for them if they believed hard enough.

Just wide: Aguero gets free of Jose Fonte but can't squeeze his shot in the far post

Just wide: Aguero gets free of Jose Fonte but can't squeeze his shot in the far post

Skill: Southampton's Calum Chambers beats Samir Nasri on the wing

Skill: Southampton's Calum Chambers beats Samir Nasri on the wing

The Premier League has an encouraging number of sides who reject the Neanderthal long-ball theory and insist on persuasive passing. Southampton have become a shining example of that excellent philosophy. Why, they have educated their fans to the point where any launched punt is roundly jeered; something we never expected to see on an English ground.

And their goal, on 42 minutes, was just stunning. In a passing team, Osvaldo produced a solo performance, collecting the ball wide on the left, swaying inside three potential tacklers, then turning again to win himself half a yard of space. He then produced the most exquisite chip into the far top corner. It was the kind of goal that can transform a season.

City, who had fallen off the pace in any case, were curiously unhinged. The early confidence was merely a memory as they lost the big challenges and squandered possession time and again.

It seemed that they might even suffer greater indignity, as the defending became chaotic on several occasions. But they came through with their point, and their manager was content; at least in public. But he knew that the title was a little further away, that there is work to be done. It will be fascinating to see how they set about it.

Tussle: Osvaldo goes in hard with Aleksandar Kolarov

Tussle: Osvaldo goes in hard with Aleksandar Kolarov

Watching on: Managers Manuel Pellegrini (left) and Mauricio Pochettino (right) observe from their technical areas

Watching on: Managers Manuel Pellegrini (left) and Mauricio Pochettino (right) observe from their technical areas

Big future: Luke Shaw (left) runs past Pablo Zabaleta down Southampton's left flank

Big future: Luke Shaw (left) runs past Pablo Zabaleta down Southampton's left flank

Going to ground: Aguero and Jack Cork jump in on one another in the middle of the park

Going to ground: Aguero and Jack Cork jump in on one another in the middle of the park

Watching from the sidelines: Joe Hart once again started from the bench for Man City

Watching from the sidelines: Joe Hart once again started from the bench for Man City

Respect: The players applaud the memory of Nelson Mandela before kick-off

Respect: The players applaud the memory of Nelson Mandela before kick-off

 
 

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Agree with Mr Collins comments about |Cork. After a rusty start, he and Davis were fantastic in CM. Yet i notice he was only given 5/10 on the ratings.....

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The sooner City players realise that scoring lots of goals is our only way to glory , the better we wrap up these games because against quality well balanced teams like Southampton, we will struggle to impose ourselves and win games..I like the 4 4 2 formation but i wish Pellegrini would learn to only use it against sides who are not as good at passing and keeping the ball because against sides that can keep the ball, we will struggle...Southampton keep the ball well and pass very well, so it doesnt make sense to have 2 up front, instead he should have asked aguero to drop back and have Negredo as the sole striker..We got ripped to shreds against bayern because of it but when Pellegrini used 4 5 1 against Chelsea..it worked very well and we only lost because of an individual error...I think Rodwell needs to start speaking Spanish to be chosen by Pellegrini, thats the only explanation i have for him favoring Garcia.The Arsenal game on Sunday is looking juicy indeed.Should be a good game

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What a cracking game. It was a credit to both teams a pleasure to watch. Southampton have built a very good side indeed and this a team with a few first team players out. Other clubs should follow suit and look very closely at Southampton's youth policy. A its far cheaper and B they will fight for the shirt. There are too many mercenary's in our game these days.

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At least Man City are improving, normally when Pellegrini plays the 3 Amigos, Garcia, DeMichelis and Kolarov, Man City lose, so a draw with them three on the field at the same time is like a win.

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Awesome Southampton performance, well done. Will be seen as a good point when we look back over the season.. Kompany is a little rusty, not worried at all. Nastasic and Kompany at the back will be better. Clichy is better at left back. But, alll in all, not everything we wanted but you don't always get everything you want do you?? Looking forward to the Arsenal!

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Win at home , draw away. Thats not a bad recipe.

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osvaldo's goal one of the goal of the season - coming from an arsenal fan

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JosephFelts, London, 4 hours ago - I also feel Arsenal will wane somewhere after Xmas.=======How fascinating. Our run was going to end in November....then December. Now it's sometime "after Christmas" I suggest your supporters and Chelsea's concentrate on what your squillion dollar teams are going to do. As a matter of interest when do you "feel" your teams waning is going to end?? Because if it carries on like this we will be out of sight "sometime after Christmas"

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Now now don't get bitter Butler you're sounding sounding like a Man yew/Chelsea/Arsenal fan.

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Big well done to Southampton you we're absolutely fantastic today! Played us/passed us off the park and deserved the win, very impressive! happy with the point considering

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We really didn't perform today but at least we didn't lose. All credit to Southampton; who were brilliant... really impressed with them this season. The good thing is I'm confident our players will raise their game for a difficult match with Arsenal.

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