Manchester City moved back to five points behind leaders Arsenal as Erling Haaland’s double helped them to a 4-1 Premier League victory against rock-bottom Southampton at St Mary’s.
Pep Guardiola’s side shocked Saints 2-0 when they met in the EFL Cup quarter-finals in January, but there was never any sign of a repeat on Saturday as the visitors dominated.
Haaland gave them the lead with a powerful header as Kevin De Bruyne reached 100 Premier League assists in his career, before Grealish doubled the lead with an alert finish shortly into the second half.
Haaland scored his 30th Premier League goal of the season before Julian Alvarez converted the penalty as City cruised to a fifth straight league win. Sekou Mara provided the consolation for Saints with a fine finish.
City cut the hosts to pieces inside five minutes, a sweeping move ending with Gavin Bazunu making a fine stop to deny Grealish.
Haaland went close to the visitors’ goal when he headed just wide, but he missed the target a second time.
De Bruyne’s sublime cross picked out the former Borussia Dortmund striker, who headed it past Bazunu and into the back of the net to give City the lead in the 45th minute.
Grealish made it 2-0 shortly after the break, Bazunu doing well to stop his initial effort before the winger coolly buried his rebound.
Haaland added his second and City’s third with a spectacular bicycle kick, slotting home from Grealish’s teasing delivery.
Mara scored when he chipped into the bottom left corner, but Alvarez rounded off the scoring from the spot in the 75th minute when he slotted home after Kyle Walker-Peters had brought down De Bruyne.
Southampton player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Gavin Bazunu – 5/10 – Could do nothing about Haaland’s goals but needed to do a little better with the second strike.
RB: Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 5/10 – Kept very busy by Grealish. Did his best but ultimately lost the battle.
CB: Jan Bednarek – 5/10 – A bit shaky whenever the ball came towards him.
CB: Armel Bella-Kotchap – 5/10 – Largely solid but switched off just once in the first half and was punished by Haaland.
LB: Kyle Walker-Peters – 5/10 – Enjoyed his battle with Mahrez but soured his performance by conceding the penalty.
CM: James Ward-Prowse – 6/10 – Had to do a lot of dirty work but can be satisfied with his individual performance.
CM: Romeo Lavia – 7/10 – A standout in Southampton’s midfield. City’s buy-back clause is looking sweeter and sweeter.
CM: Mohamed Elyounoussi – 6/10 – Tasked with keeping watch of De Bruyne, Elyounoussi ultimately came up short but put in a real shift.
RW: Theo Walcott – 5/10 – Had a bit of a tough time getting involved. Southampton had very little possession and that didn’t suit Walcott.
ST: Carlos Alcaraz – 6/10 – Pressed from the front with the odd moment of real quality. Had to work hard with so little possession.
LW: Kamaldeen Sulemana – 5/10 – No idea how Sulemana didn’t score.
Stuart Armstrong (60′ for Elyounoussi) – 5/10
Moussa Djenepo (69′ for Alcaraz) – 7/10
Sekou Mara (69′ for Sulemana) – 7/10
Ibrahima Diallo (80′ for Lavia) – N/A
Romain Perraud (80′ for Walcott) – N/A
Ruben Selles – 6/10 – There’s no shame to losing against City. Southampton were really impressive in the first half and caused problems on the counter. There could have been a different story here but the gulf in quality between the two teams ultimately took its toll.
Man City player ratings (3-2-4-1)
GK: Ederson – 6/10 – Rarely involved thanks to some wasteful finishing from Southampton.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 5/10 – Not his best performance as Sulemana’s speed caused him countless problems.
CB: Ruben Dias – 7/10 – Busier than he’d have expected to be, but dealt with the uncomfortable moments well.
CB: Nathan Ake – 7/10 – Yet another top performance from the Dutchman, whose stellar season is starting to attract the praise it deserves.
DM: John Stones – 6/10 – Played the pivot role well and had to do a lot of defending to keep an eye on Southampton’s tricky forwards.
DM: Rodri – 6/10 – Given more freedom to get forwards, Rodri didn’t really offer much but he didn’t get much wrong either.
RM: Riyad Mahrez – 5/10 – A pretty anonymous performance from Mahrez.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 9/10 – A good battle with Elyounoussi. De Bruyne used his intelligence to get away and create the opener, securing his 100th Premier League assist at record pace, and played a huge role in the second and third strikes as well.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 7/10 – An intelligent performance from Gundogan as he linked all the pieces together and kept City pushing forward. Should have had a goal of his own.
LM: Jack Grealish – 8/10 – Another dangerous showing which yielded a scrappy, albeit deserved, goal and an impressive assist.
ST: Erling Haaland – 8/10 – Barely involved but once again popped up at the right moments to make the telling impact. A delightful second goal.
Bernardo Silva (56′ for Mahrez) – 7/10
Kyle Walker (56′ for Stones) – 6/10
Julian Alvarez (69′ for Haaland) – 7/10
Sergio Gomez (80′ for Ake) – N/A
Kalvin Phillips (80′ for Rodri) – N/A
Pep Guardiola – 6/10 – Another classy performance from Guardiola. Struggled to get the right tune out of his team early on but eventually willed his way through.
Player of the match – Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
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