Southampton made us suffer - Guardiola hails Man City's 'best' opponents

By Sports Desk March 10, 2021

Pep Guardiola lauded Southampton as the best team Manchester City have faced at the Etihad Stadium this season despite the Premier League leaders running out 5-2 winners.

Three days on from a 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United in the derby, City returned to winning ways in an action-packed contest.

It was far from plain sailing after Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring in the 15th minute as James Ward-Prowse levelled from the penalty spot when Aymeric Laporte fouled Jannik Vestergaard.

The excellent Riyad Mahrez pounced on a poor pass from Che Adams to restore City's lead and Ilkay Gundogan poached his 14th of the season in all competitions when the Algeria winger's shot came back off the post in first-half stoppage time.

Mahrez and De Bruyne each added to their personal tallies in the second half, either side of Adams getting in on the act, and Guardiola felt such individual quality proved the difference.

"They started incredibly well. They are the team who made us suffer without the ball the most this season," the City boss told Sky Sports, with his team having battled to a hard-fought 1-0 win at St Mary's in December. "Without the ball they have a process to play incredibly well."

"After three shots on target we scored two goals. Second half we were much, much better. Unfortunately, at 4-1 we conceded a goal we have to avoid but, in general, good and another victory.

"They are so good, They put a lot of players in the middle - Vestergaard and [Jan] Bednarek. Ward-Prowse has the quality to attract with his passes our players in the middle, After they found the two wingers and the strikers behind. They do it really well.

"In the first 15 or 20 minutes they were the best team we have faced at the Etihad Stadium this season.

"Today the quality of our players won the game. Phil [Foden], Riyad and Kevin, they won the game"

Despite the teams sharing seven goals, the biggest talking point arguably came when the score was 1-1 and Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy slid into a rash tackle on Phil Foden.

The England international looked to remain on his feet and the expected VAR call for on-field official Jon Moss to review the decision never arrived – much to Guardiola's amazement.

"Jon cannot see it but the VAR is there. You know for a long time, I never complaint about the referees, but this action is incredible. In-cre-di-ble," he exclaimed.

"The VAR exists for when the referees don't see the action, they can make a mistake.

"But for no review when you don't whistle for a penalty in this action? I don't understand."

Foden, who played the full 90 minutes of Wednesday's contest, was similarly baffled.

"I'm an honest guy and I never like to dive, I tried to stay on my feet," he told Sky Sports after setting up Mahrez and De Bruyne's second-half goals.

"I thought it was 100 per cent a penalty and I don't know what happened there, but it happens and we just had to react after that."

Related items

  • Milan 'must not repeat defensive errors' – Pioli warns champions despite opening-day win Milan 'must not repeat defensive errors' – Pioli warns champions despite opening-day win

    Milan head coach Stefano Pioli said his team "must not repeat" their defensive errors in Saturday's opening win against Udinese when they face Atalanta next week.

    The Rossoneri got their Serie A title defence off to a victorious start at San Siro as they beat Udinese 4-2, but had to come from behind after conceding just 90 seconds into the new season when Rodrigo Becao headed in a corner.

    A penalty from Theo Hernandez and an Ante Rebic strike quickly turned things around, only for Adam Masina to head in an equaliser just before half-time.

    Brahim Diaz restored Milan's lead less than a minute into the second half, before Rebic wrapped things up with just over 20 minutes to go.

    While Pioli was clearly unhappy with conceding twice, he did acknowledge that his side recovered and played some of the football that saw them win their first Scudetto in 11 years last season.

    "I didn't like conceding so early; we have to start better," he told DAZN. "Then we played half an hour of great football, against a very dangerous and physical opponent.

    "We conceded two goals from crosses, we had to work much better. We will review everything and deal with these situations better.

    "Sometimes we are more determined when we defend high instead of in front of our penalty area. This is a serious mistake, and we must not repeat it next Sunday against an opponent like Atalanta."

    Rebic scored twice, his first Serie A goals at San Siro in 482 days, having not registered a league goal on home soil since playing Genoa in April 2021.

    "Ante is a very strong player," Pioli added. "He knows how to move, he knows how to tie the game, he has all the characteristics to be important. He worked for the team, he really gave us a lot, so congratulations [to him]."

    New signings Charles de Ketelaere and Divock Origi made their debuts from the bench, with the former putting the ball in the back of the net only to see it disallowed for a foul by the latter.

    Pioli was asked about De Ketelaere, a big-money arrival from Club Brugge, and suggested the Belgium international will need more time before starting.

    "The [first] impressions are very positive, he is an intelligent guy," he said.

    "He can read situations in advance... He still doesn't have the best possible condition [fitness-wise]. He was probably used to working between the lines more, we aim to fill those spaces with more players.

    "There is no doubt about his talent, but he comes from a different league and will need the time to understand this football. "

  • Barcelona 0-0 Rayo Vallecano: Busquets sees red as debutants fail to inspire Blaugrana in tame display Barcelona 0-0 Rayo Vallecano: Busquets sees red as debutants fail to inspire Blaugrana in tame display

    Barcelona's 2022-23 season got off to a slow start with a goalless draw against Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou.

    After finally registering their new recruits on Friday, Robert Lewandowski, Andreas Christensen and Raphinha were handed debuts from the start, but could not provide the difference in a tame display that saw Sergio Busquets sent off late on.

    Stole Dimitrievski was forced into action on several occasions but was never really tested, while Marc Andre ter Stegen had to be alert at the other end to prevent a third consecutive defeat to the Madrid outfit.

    Barcelona came closest through Lewandowski, who saw a debut goal chalked off and hit another late effort just wide as the hosts failed to capitalise despite dominating possession.

    It could have been a different story as Lewandowski took just 12 minutes to find the back of the net in LaLiga, chipping an effort over the onrushing Dimitrievski – but his celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.

    While Barcelona were in control, the best chance of the opening period fell to the visitors as Ter Stegen was called into action to keep Alvaro Garcia at bay after a fake shot left Ronald Araujo on the deck.

    The visitors had another golden opportunity six minutes after the restart, pressing high to steal possession and Sergio Camello danced his way through the defence but was unable to hit the target.

    Ansu Fati made a swift impact after his second-half introduction, testing Dimitrievski with a curling effort.

    Fellow substitutes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Franck Kessie also came close, the former seeing an attempt cleared off the line while the latter found the net, but the hosts were again denied by the offside flag.

    A frustrating night was further compounded during eight minutes of injury time as Busquets was dismissed after being shown a second yellow card for catching Radamel Falcao with a stray arm, while Falcao also had a goal disallowed for the visitors for offside in the closing minutes as both were forced to settle for a draw.

  • Paris Saint-Germain 5-2 Montpellier: Neymar scores twice as Galtier maintains winning start Paris Saint-Germain 5-2 Montpellier: Neymar scores twice as Galtier maintains winning start

    Neymar scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain made it consecutive wins to start the Ligue 1 season with an emphatic 5-2 victory over Montpellier at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.

    The champions started their title defence with a 5-0 win against Clermont last weekend in Christophe Galtier's first league game in charge, and they followed that up with a ninth success in their past 10 league games against Montpellier, despite a penalty miss from Kylian Mbappe midway through the first half.

    The France international made amends soon after when his cross was turned into his own net by Falaye Sacko, before Neymar doubled the hosts' advantage from a second penalty of the game.

    Neymar and Mbappe scored either side of Wahbi Khazri's goal for the visitors, while there were late efforts from debutant Renato Sanches and Montpellier's Enzo Tchato Mbiayi. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.