Southampton v Manchester City
St.Mary’s, Sunday 1st May 2016
> Long scores the first, with Mané getting a hat-trick
> Long, Mané and Tadić have a great afternoon
> Southampton back up to 7th in the league
A brilliant hat-trick for Sadio Mané
Walking away from the ground I was wondering if any of the press would say how well Saints played, or would it all be about Manchester City fielding a team of reserves. Added to which, I was wondering if that was the best Euro2016 preparation for Joe Hart, to pick the ball out of his net four times.
There were no real surprises in the squad, other than the absence of Graziano Pellè. There were stories that he was injured, that he has had a bust up and refused to come to St.Mary's on matchday, that he was happily watching the match from one of the boxes, but nobody really knew.
In the absence of any hard news about this, I saw that Martina had come back in to the team, with Cédric dropping to the bench. Midfield was Wanyama and Clasie, with Davis in front of them. Up front it was Tadić, Long and Mané. Plenty of pace there then.
Although Pellègrini made five changes from the Manchester City team that beat Stoke 4-0 in their last League game, Joe Hart was still in goal and in front of him were a host of expensive internationals. For the majority of the game however, it didn't look like it. Right from the off, Saints were on it, with Long, Mané and Tadić causing their defence all sorts of problems. For all their attacking prowess, Manchester City were getting hit on the break time after time. A goal seemed only a matter of time.
The first nearly came from Manchester City, when Sterling, who can't have been more than six yards from goal, brought a fantastic point blank save from Fraser Forster.
That aside, the only City player to catch the eye was 19 year old Iheanacho, who scored not once, but twice. The first after Saints were already two goals up, was a header after the ball bounced around and hit Martina. The second, late in the game, when it was effectively all over, was a blinding shot. This is a player to watch in the future.
These were the only positives that I could find to say about this Manchester City team, as they were absolutely woeful otherwise. Saints just ripped them to bits.
The first goal came on 25 minutes when Shane Long raced onto a wonderful pass from Tadić and shot through Joe Hart's legs. He had twice embarrassed the City defence prior to that, without managing to hit the target.
The second goal followed just three minutes later, when Sadio Mané latched onto another Tadić pass to score the first of his goals.
To be honest Saints should really have scored more goals in that first half, such was their superiority, with Long and Mané racing around like Terriers. They had nine shots at goal, but still only went in one goal to the better at half-time.
Half-time, ahh the nostalgia. We had already been treated to the sight of the surviving members of the 1976 FACup winning side, together with Lawrie McMenemy, but without Mick Channon, who was apparently at the races. We were then treated to Franny Benali's daughter trying to interview Rickie Lambert and Dan Harding. That was just futile, as the crowd were chanting "Rickie Lambert, Rickie Lambert, Southampton's goal machine" and "He wants to come home, he wants to come home. Rickie Lambert, Rickie Lambert". Fair brought a lump to the throat.
Anyway, back to the real business. I expected City to change at half-time, so inept were they in the first half. No personal changes, but they at least seemed to make more of an effort. Their comeback lasted for about ten minutes, before Saints won a corner, taken by Stephen Davis. Virgil van Dijk (I thought it was José Fonte at the time) headed against the crossbar and Mané was the first to react, poking the ball home in a mêlée of players. 3-1.
We were then treated to the unlikely sight of Virgil van Dijk hitting a glorious overhead kick, which Joe Hart just managed to tip over the bar.
Hardly time to get over that before Mané got his hat-trick on a day when his stats were pretty damned impressive. He had five shots, of which four were on target and scored three times. So, 4-1.
Iheanacho scoring in the 78th minute was all but irrelevant and the game was closed out without any further drama.
Mané might have got the headlines, but Shane Long was my man of the match by some margin. He was everywhere and kept going at 110% right to the final whistle. He must be hell for opposing defenders now. He has developed immeasurably this season. What he has done is add goals to his repertoire. It was easy to be critical of him when he just was not scoring many goals. That just isn't true any more.
There were other good performances worthy of mention as well, Dušan Tadić seems to be back to his best at last. Some of his passing was slide rule perfect. Martina had another good game, this time keeping a much vaunted, very expensive forward (Sterling) as quiet as a church mouse. The only blot was an apparent howler, which led to the first Manchester City goal. Later replays seemed to suggest that the ball had hit him, with little chance to get out of the way. Whatever the truth of it, Martina has turned out to be way, way better than we had any right to expect. An absolute bargain and as he enters the final year of his two year contract, I would have thought that he has probably earned an improved, extended contract.
On the other hand, I was amazed that Romeu wasn't picked to start again. What has he got to do to be a regular starter?
All in all though, this was a wonderful day, lashings of nostalgia, together with putting the expensively assembled Manchester City reserves to the sword.
Monday, 2nd May 2016
17 van Dijk
4 Clasie - Booked 30' (Romeu 59')
8 Davis (Ward-Prowse 73')
11 Tadic - Booked 54' (Rodriguez 87')
25 Fernandinho - Booked 20' (Demichelis 60')
18 Delph (Jesús Navas 64')
15 Jesús Navas
- Long - 25'
- Mané - 28', 57', 68'
Man City 2
- Iheanacho - 44', 78'
Referee : Andre Marriner
Attendance : 31,472
- Southampton 40%
- Manchester City 60%
- Southampton 14
- Manchester City 6
Shots on Target
- Southampton 7
- Manchester City 5
- Southampton 8
- Manchester City 2
- Southampton 12
- Manchester City 9