Manchester City appeared to have its Premier League winning streak snapped, but Raheem Sterling came to the rescue–again–with a sensational winner at the death vs. Southampton.
Manchester City snatched a sensational win in the last minute of injury time at the Etihad stadium on Wednesday night thanks to Raheem Sterling's stunning strike, which sent the home fans delirious and crushed Southampton's resolve in an enthralling contest.
Southampton pushed City to the brink and threatened to end its Premier League winning streak, but the hosts continued to press until the final whistle looking for that decisive second goal to extend it to 12. but Southampton players remained resolute and the team's efforts looked like they were to be rewarded with a hard fought point.
However, City keep going until the end and never relent and Sterling curled in a superb winner in the last minute of injury time, past the despairing dive of Fraser Forster to give City the win and extend the lead back at the top of the league to eight points.
Coming into this fixture, City were in imperious form having won the last five league games and oozing confidence in their play. Southampton were less predictable having won two and lost two of their last five.
The demolition of Everton on Sunday certainly boosted morale as they have found adapting to new manager Mauricio Pellegrino's approach challenging.
Pep Guardiola made two changes to his City line up with IIkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus replacing David Silva and Leroy Sane in their 4-3-3 system.
For the Saints, Pellegrino made numerous changes with Maya Yoshida coming into defense, Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina to strengthen the midfield and Nathan Redmond and Shane Long providing pace in attack in a 3-5-2 formation.
The game started as expected with City dominating possession and carefully probing. Southampton remained disciplined to make it difficult for their opponents to break them down.
It took until the 14th minute for the first real chance of the game. Southampton won a corner it was swung into the near post by Bertrand, Yoshida did well to flick on and then unopposed Hoedt headed against the woodwork from six yards, with Ederson stranded.
City responded, Fernandinho forced a comfortable save from Forster in the 19th minute. The big Saints custodian did well to push the ball wide for a corner, although it was arguably at a good height.
The game was flowing with Manchester City looking tidy, but a little labored in their passing and Southampton visually growing in confidence as each minute ticked by.
Forster was called into action again in the 24th minute after quick, incisive play from Gundogan, who broke into the penalty area and drove a low shot towards goal that the keeper did well to block with his legs.
Southampton were managing the game well, delaying at every opportunity which began to frustrate the home crowd. Their actions were continually greeted with a chorus of whistles and jeers to encourage them to hurry along.
When the half finally drew to a close, Southampton would have been encouraged by their efforts as they had comfortably kept City at arm's length. In addition, they had looked particularly threatening at set pieces where City's zonal marking was struggling to cope.
The Citizens needed to up their performance a few gears and they duly obliged with a quick start in the second half. De Bruyne's free kick was whipped into the penalty area and the slightest of touches by Van Dijk guided the ball past the helpless Forster at his near post. The blanket of anxiety was lifted.
Visibly the home side had increased the tempo of their passing and pressing, they were now forcing the issue. Forster was called into action again with a flying save across his goal as De Bruyne let fly from 20 yards, the England keeper was beginning to have a busy night as Southampton were struggling to get out of their own half.
Southampton's best opportunities continued to come from set pieces, but these were few and far between as City dominated possession and peppered Forster's goal at will as if toying with their opponent to prolong their agony.
Then out of nowhere Southampton drew level in the 74th minute. Romeu blasted in a pull back from Boufal after a wonderful first touch from a deep cross to the back post - the finish was clinical and gave Ederson no chance.