Soccer

Man City overcome latest VAR farce in Southampton win and move ever nearer title

Manchester City overcame more VAR madness to sink Southampton and take another giant stride towards regaining the Premier League title.

Pep Guardiola's side were denied an obvious first-half penalty following another farcical decision from the match officials at the Etihad and those looking on from Stockley Park.

But the shambles couldn't stop City bouncing back from last weekend's shock derby defeat to run out comfortable winners, thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan and braces each from Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne.

The Saints had threatened to ruin the script when James Ward-Prowse hauled them level from the spot on 24 minutes.

But City's class told in the end and Ralf Hassenhutl's men will be glad to see the back of Manchester this season, having suffered a 9-0 battering at Old Trafford five weeks ago.

The Saints have now conceded more goals (14) in two trips to the city than Guardiola's side have all season – and continue to flirt with relegation just seven points above the drop zone.

The visitors had been huge underdogs, having taken just one point from a possible 27 in their previous nine league games before beating Sheffield United last weekend.

That was a rare highlight in an otherwise desperate campaign that had deteriorated ever since the trouncing at Manchester United.

Guardiola, meanwhile, had never lost back-to-back home league games in his managerial career – and didn't want to start now.

His side might have had an 11 point lead at the top of the table, but he'd warned his stars to forget about presuming the title was theirs.

The Saints made a bright start, but still found themselves behind when City scored with their first real attack of the game inside 15 minutes.

Oleksandre Zinchenko picked out Phil Foden, who saw his shot well saved by Alex McCarthy, but De Bruyne reacted first to pounce on the loose ball and fire it into an open goal off the underside of the crossbar.

The blow didn't bother the Saints, who hit back within nine minutes to level matters through Ward-Prowse.

Ederson produced a strong save to block Jannik Vestergaard's header from a corner, but as the Danish defender tried to reach the rebound he was pulled down by Laporte and referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot.

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    City were left in a rage when VAR somehow denied them a clear penalty of their own after McCarthy's miss controlled a back pass before tripping Foden.

    It was an astonishing decision and might have been a different one had Foden gone down, instead of trying to stay on his feet.

    City needed to rely on their own brilliance instead of technology and duly delivered some to take control with two goals before half time.

    Mahrez made it 2-1 with a sublime strike after Che Adams had gifted him the chance with an awful pass, before charging through the Saints defence to provide Gundogan with a simple finish after the Algerian's initial shot had come back off the post.

    Mahrez then made it 4-1 with his second of the night on 55 minutes but the Saints refused to buckle and pulled one back through Adams moments later, only for De Bruyne to complete the rout soon after.

    MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3):Ederson 7; Walker 7, Dias 7, Laporte 6, Zinchenko 7 (Mendy 80); De Bruyne 7 (Aguero 71), Fernandinho 7, Gundogan 7; MAHREZ 9 (Torres 61, 7), Silva 8, Foden 7. Subs: Steffen, Stones, Sterling, Jesus, Rodri, Cancelo.

    SOUTHAMPTON (3-4-2-1):McCarthy 6; Vestergaard 7, Stephens 6 (Diallo 63, 6), Salisu 6; Bednarek 7, WARD-PROWSE 8, Armstrong 7 (Watts 71), Bertrand 7; Djenepo 6 (Tella 46, 6), Redmond 7; Adams 6. Subs: Forster, Walker-Peters, Minamino, Ramsey, N'Lundulu, Ferry.

    REFEREE:Jon Moss 5

    MOM:Riyad Mahrez

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