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Dublin: 18 °C Tuesday 26 May, 2020


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WE FOUND OURSELVES at Eastlands, home of the Premier League champions Manchester City. Their title defence began with a visit from newly promoted Southampton.

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Latest: Man City 3-2 Southampton

Manchester City’s quest to retain their lovely Premier League trophy starts in less than 15 minutes.

Here are the teams we will be following today:

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Silva, Rodwell, Toure, Nasri, Aguero, Tevez.

Subs: Pantilimon, Milner, Dzeko, Kolarov, Savic, De Jong, Balotelli.

Joe Hart returns after missing last weekend’s Community Shield win. Jack Rodwell starts, as does David Silva.

Southampton: Davis, Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox, Ward-Prowse, Lallana, Schneiderlin, Puncheon, Rodriguez, Do Prado.

Subs: Gazzaniga, Lambert, Steven Davis, Sharp, Richardson, Shaw, Seaborne.

35-year-old ‘keeper Kelvin Davis starts in goal for the Saints.  Record signing Gaston Ramirez is not in the matchday squad.

Southampton were down in Division One 15 months ago. Now they are playing the league champions and even making cheeky suggestions about taking former Saint Theo Walcott on-loan. The last game they played was on 11 August at home to Udinese. They lost 4-0. Get it out of the system lads!

Gael Clichy is sporting a ridiculous hair-cut. We will attempt to get you a picture. 17-year-old James Ward Prowse in the line-up for Southampton.

City kick us off. Howard Webb is the man in black.

You must be kidding me? David Silva has been sent to the sidelines to get his ILLEGAL white tape covered up with blue tape. The new PL regulations state that tape must be the same colour as the team’s socks. Nuts.

Jack Rodwell does well to cut out a cross and give Southampton a corner (2 mins), which they spurn by taking it short and getting into a muddle. Nice attacking intent shown so far.

Southampton’s jersey resembles that of Middlesborough now that they have reduced the size of their white stripes. Strange decision from the jersey designers. Tevez in a dangerous position (5 mins) but he is called back for offside.

Ward Prowse tries his look from 40 yards but his shot is blocked. Nathaniel Clyne then shows Sergio Aguero (7 mins) who is boss. The Argentine catches his foot in the turf and is down receiving treatment.

The stretcher is on but Aguero has hobbled off. He wants to continue. Balotelli warms up just in case. Is he in your fantasy football team? He’s in mine.

Joleon Lescott has lept (13 mins) two-footed into a ball-winning challenge in the City box. Very dicey. Southampton not happy. Aguero is indeed coming off and Edin Dzeko is coming on.

Southampton’s bright start receding now as City press on.

PENALTY! Tevez is taken down (15 mins)

MISS! Shocking penalty from Silva and he will not be allowed to take another. Weak, low and a smidge to the keeper’s left. Kelvin Davis saves.

Hooiveld was the offender as he clumsily took down Tevez for that penalty. The man who normally takes penalties for City – Sergio Aguero.

Southampton pressing City (21 mins) all over the pitch. Good fight from them so far.

Tevez puts Zabaleta clear on the right flank (23 mins) but the defender can’t find a blue shirt in the box.

David Silva has not shrunk from him midfield tasks after than penalty miss. He almost picks his way through the Saints’ defence. Tevez is muscled off the ball (27 mins) and the home fans cry foul but Webb is not listening.

Do Prado looking increasingly isolated up front.

Tevez whips in a dangerous cross that Dzeko narrowly fails to connect with (28 mins).

Clichy then has a cross cut out (30 mins) and it goes for a corner that is an outswinger and nowhere near dangerous.

Streamline Carlos Tevez traps the ball and space opens up for him (31 mins) on the edge of the box. He only manages a toe-poke that Davis comfortably saves.

Silva is almost in (33 mins) but Fonte takes the ball from him with a scissors tackle.

Free in to Southampton (34 mins) after Zabaleta blocks a cross with his arm.

Good whip in from Lallana but Nasri gets a head on it. The corner (36 mins) is intercepted by Lescott but comes off a Saints head too for a goal kick.

Brendan Rodgers in the stands – doing his research for Liverpool’s game against the champs next weekend.

Silva nearly jinks in again but the ball is hacked clear (39 mins)

GOAL! Samir Nasri chips the ball over the top (39 mins) for a slightly offside Carlos Tevez. He surges forward and slides the ball in at Davis’ near post. The goalkeeper will be disappointed but Tevez did well.

Southampton look to be consolidating the scoreline and looking to regroup at the break.

45 minutes gone but four minutes injury time being played. Silva slides a pass in for Zabaleta but the Argentine’s cross flashes across the six yard box. The ball comes back to Dzeko, then Silva. Davis does well to block a shot on goal but can’t gather. Saints just about hold on.

Tevez strokes in a tempting cross towards Dzeko but Toure, the unintended recipient, bundles it out of play (48 mins).


The players are emerging from the tunnel for the second-half.

We’re off.

Gaston Pamirez is, of course, not in the squad as his move to Southampton is not 100% complete yet. The Bologna striker has said that he is looking forward to the challenge of playing in the Premier League. He should cost the club about €14.5m.

Aguero is going to have an MRI scan on his injured leg but only after the swelling dies down. City are ‘cautiously optimistic’.

This is perhaps why Edin Dzeko is never quite assured of his place at City. Samir Nasri does fantastically (48 mins) to lose two markers and smack in a square ball that bounces off a surprised Dzeko into Davis’ arms.

Yaya Toure with a stunning dink over the top (51 mins) and a haring Clichy can only side-foot over from six yards out.

Rickie Lambert is getting ready to come on for Southampton. He scored 27 times for the club last season.

Davis parries a whipped cross straight to Nasri, who sets up Silva (54 mins). The Spaniard can’t keep his effort down and clips the top of the crossbar. Lambert is on for Rodriguez.

Puncheon sells Clichy a dummy and gets a fine cross in (56 mins) but Lallana can’t direct the effort goalwards.

Three on two break for City but Dzeko botches it as he sprints well offside. Tevez can not pass it to him, shoots and hits it wide.

GOAL! What a finish from Rickie Lambert! City can’t get the ball off Southampton, who craft an opening for Lambert. He uses Kompany as a screen and curls a beauty past Joe Hart in the City goal (59 mins).

City trying to get the lead back but Southampton are still buzzing. Zabaleta (64 mins) tries his luck with a header from 16 yards out but it is no problem for Davis. Steven Davis on for the Saints now.

Free kick awarded to City in a dangerous position (66 mins) but Tevez, who won the free, hits the wall. Corner to City.

GOAL! Southampton break five on three and Lallana tees up Steven Davis, fresh from the bench, who rolls in a cracking side-footed effort to Hart’s left. Super goal (68 mins).

Mario Balotelli is getting suited and booted.

Zabaleta (71 mins) puts in a very dangerous cross but Clyne does well to hook it out for a corner. GOAL! The corner drops to Kompany, his shot is charged down, as is Balotelli’s (on for Silva). The ball drops to Dzeko who smashes it home for 2-2.

End to end stuff as Puncheon almost gets clear in the City box. Play goes up the other end of the pitch (73 mins) and Balotelli really should have finished a chance on the back post. He succeeds only in hitting the side-netting.

Balotelli whips in a free kick from 30 yards out and Davis can only parry it back into the six yard box. Dzeko leaps well to meet a cross but his header (77 mins) goes two yards right and wide.

Hooiveld almost did a Djimi Traore as he intercepts a cross before hacking clear just in time.

GOAL! Gael Clichy fires in a good cross but Fox gets to it at the back post. His header, for reasons only known to himself, goes towards Nasri, unmarked on the penalty spot. The Frenchman smashes it in for 3-2 with nine minutes to go.

Southampton (83 mins) press for the equaliser but Schneiderlin’s drive takes a deflection. The corner is headed clear by Lescott.

Fonte has a chance in the City box but gets under the ball. Billy Sharp is on now for the Saints (85 mins) as Puncheon goes off. Could it be three substitute goals for the visitors. Schneiderlin takes a yellow for stopping Tevez from breaking clear. Kolarov comes on for Tevez now (87 mins) as Roberto Mancini looks to close out the game.

Just a minute of normal time to go and Southampton are pressing high up the field.

Mancini is going ballistic on the sideline – looking for his team to control the game in its closing stages.

FULL-TIME. That is that. Southampton could not fashion another clear-cut chance before the end. Roberto Mancini does not look too impressed but City will be happy to escape with a win.

About the author:

Patrick McCarry