Poor City punished at Southampton
Southampton's Jason Puncheon celebrates after scoring his team's opening goal
The Ivorian midfielder return to the starting lineup following another failed mission at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa but failed to inspire his side as they struggled to control the game in the middle of the park.
Jason Puncheon and Steven Davies put the hosts ahead early in the first half and Edin Dzeko pulled one goal back before a second half own-goal from Gareth Barry secured maximum points for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
The hosts got off to a great start as they found the opener in the 7th minute with Puncheon sidefooting the ball into the empty net from inside the box after Jay Rodriguez initial attempt had been blocked by Joe Hart.
City then tried to play themselves into the game but it was the Saints who doubled their lead in the 22nd minute as Hart failed to hold on to a weak shot from Rickie Lambert, allowing Steven Davis to poke the ball home from close range.
Ten minutes later Southampton almost added a third when City failed to clear their lines, allowing the home side to exchange the ball inside the box, but Rodriguez eventually fired his low shot just wide of the far post.
The home side continued to look dangerous every time they pushed forward and in the 38th minute Nathaniel Clyne cut in from the right before unleashing a strike from long range, only for his shot to be deflected just over the crossbar.
However, from the resulting corner City were able to launch a counterattack which saw David Silva releasing Pablo Zabaleta on the right, who then squared the ball for Dzeko to nudge home from the centre of the box.
Roberto Mancini’s side came close to leveling matters on the stroke of half time when Zabaleta went on another good run on the right before playing the ball across towards Silva, who fired his shot straight at the goalkeeper.
The home side then restored their two-goal advantage three minutes into the second half as Gareth Barry somehow pushed the ball into his own net while trying to clear what looked like a harmless low cross from Lambert.
City came almost pulled another goal back in the 55th minute when Barry played a lobbed pass towards Sergio Aguero, but Artur Boruc did well to parry his volleyed shot to safety.
The Southampton goalkeeper was called into action again twenty minutes later, this time putting his body on the line to smother a low cross from Aleksandar Kolarov with a number of City forwards looking to pounce.
The Saints then managed to control the pace in the closing stages of the match and in the end held on for a comfortable victory which moved them up to 15th place on the table.
City remain in second place with 53 points, nine points behind log leaders Manchester United, who now have a game in hand.