Man City 3 Southampton 2: Lessons learned as Nasri rescues champions
Man City 3 Southampton 2: What did we learn from the Citizens' dramatic victory over the Saints at the Etihad Stadium?
Aguero injury concern
There is never a dull moment for Manchester City, and the defending Premier League champions were dealt an early blow in their opening fixture. In the eighth minute, Sergio Aguero surged down the left, prompting Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne to slide in and dispossess the Argentine striker. It was a fair challenge, but it left Aguero clutching his right knee in agony. After much deliberation between the City staff and the 24-year-old, the former Atlético Madrid star was replaced by Edin Dzeko. If Aguero is sidelined for a long spell, it could be a huge boost for City’s title rivals. The new streamlined Carlos Tévez looked sharp in pre-season and netted a spectacular goal against Chelsea in their Community Shield win. City’s Argentine duo would certainly provided competition to Manchester United’s blockbuster strike partnership of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Aguero scored 30 goals as he adapted effortlessly to English football last term, and Mancini will prefer not to rely on the erratic Mario Balotelli and inconsistent Dzeko – City will face a nervous wait to find out if Aguero’s injury is as serious as first feared.
Tévez set to terrorise Premier League defences again
Tévez was the star of what was otherwise an underwhelming City performance on Sunday and the 28-year-old capped his display with a strike five minutes before half-time. Samir Nasri’s disguised pass reached the former United forward, who outpaced Jose Fonte before calmly slotting his finish past Kelvin Davis. It was also Tévez who won City’s penalty in the 10th minute – which was missed by David Silva – as he showed great awareness to pivot around Jos Hooiveld, who jumped into the tackle too enthusiastically. His movement was quick, his touch was sharp and he showed the kind of tenacity displayed in his first two seasons at Eastlands.
City’s key men dust down the cobwebs
Despite a 3-2 win in the Community Shield last weekend, City’s key men, particularly Vincent Kompany, Silva and Yaya Touré looked off the pace at the Etihad Stadium. When Hooiveld was lured into a challenge which felled Tévez inside Davis’ area, it appeared City were going to get the defence of their league crown off to a perfect start. In the absence of the departed Aguero, Silva stepped up to take the spot-kick, but the Spaniard’s tame effort simply drifted into Davis’ grateful arms. Touré, the fulcrum of Roberto Mancini’s title-winning side last season, was inaccurate with his passing and showed signs of sluggishness against a nimble Southampton midfield. Even Kompany was almost punished for a rare mistake in the opening 10 minutes, as Jay Rodriguez pinched the ball off the Belgian’s toe, with Jack Rodwell’s block sparing his captain any further embarrassment. City’s new signing was not without fault though, as his terrible pass set the Saints on a counter-attack, resulting in Davis’ goal in the 68th minute. Mirroring the dramatic 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers in May which secured them a the title, City denied Southampton a famous win, with Dzeko and Nasri both scoring from close-range in quick succession to rescue three points. Next up for the defending champions, a trip to Anfield, where they will face a wounded Liverpool side who lost 3-0 at the Hawthorns on Saturday. Mancini’s side will need to improve.
Super subs strike
Deprived off his first Premier League start after such a big contribution to Southampton’s promotion last season, Ricky Lambert scored within four minutes of arriving as a second-half substitute. In a bid to contain City, Nigel Adkins opted to leave Lambert, who scored 27 goals last season, on the bench for the more mobile Guly, but with the visitors trailing, the Saints manager decided it was time to attack. In the 60th minute, Guly’s shot was blocked by some desperate City defending, but the rebound fell to the former Liverpool youth star who tucked his effort out of the reach of Joe Hart to restore parity. Steven Davis – who replaced the 17-year-old James Ward-Prowse – was the chief beneficiary of a Rodwell mistake and gave Southampton an unlikely lead. For a brief five minutes spell, the travelling Saints support dared to dream of the perfect start to their top-flight return. Despite late goals from Dzeko and Nasri, it was a promising display from Adkins’ side, who will not discard their attacking flair which has proved so fruitful in reaching the Premier League.
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