Manchester City put four past Southampton

Premier League

Haaland scored in the penultimate second of the first half after returning to the side after overcoming a groin issue. Before Haaland’s spectacular overhead strike increased his total to 44 goals in a fantastic debut season with the English champions, Jack Grealish doubled City’s advantage. By the time Julian Alvarez converted a penalty kick for City’s fourth goal, the Norwegian had already been replaced, preventing him from completing his hat-trick.

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By that point, Sekou Mara had given Southampton a goal, but they were still at the bottom of the standings and four points from safety. Haaland’s return from the team that beat Liverpool 4-1 last weekend was the sole alteration, proving Pep Guardiola was true to his promise that he was not considering the Champions League quarterfinal, first leg, against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

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The visitors could have been punished against a team with greater firepower than the Saints had they not been unable to reach the same heights over the opening 45 minutes.

When he outraced Kevin De Bruyne to the ball and dashed into the Manchester City half, Kamaldeen Sulemana had the finest opportunity to give Ruben Selles’ team a startling lead. Nathan Ake did well to close the angle, though, before Ederson sprinted off his line to reroute the ball to safety.

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Haaland was more understanding than usual, allowing Southampton a break with a header from a deflected ball that he smashed wide at the back post.

Yet when he stooped to meet De Bruyne’s cross just before halftime, he didn’t fumble a similar opportunity. At the break, Manchester City shifted into high gear as an eighth straight victory across all competitions maintained Guardiola’s team in the running for a treble of trophies.

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Grealish is performing at his best following his £100 million transfer from Aston Villa in 2021, which made him the most expensive player in Premier League history at the time. Gavin Bazunu blocked his initial attempt, so he fired at the second opportunity. Grealish took on the role of creator for the third goal when Haaland spectacularly finished off his cross with an overhead kick for his 30th Premier League goal of the year.

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The striker’s final touch came after that, and he was replaced by Alvarez for the final 20 minutes with an eye toward Bayern’s midweek visit. When he directed Moussa Djenepo’s cross into the net, Mara momentarily gave the home crowd cause for celebration. But three minutes later, as De Bruyne was shoved over in the box, City restored their three-goal lead.

Despite playing second fiddle to Haaland for the most part, the Belgian stood aside to let Alvarez score his 14th goal of the year. Liverpool has typically been City’s main title competition during the Guardiola era. But when Arsenal travels to Anfield on Sunday in search of their first away league victory against Liverpool in 11 years, they will be looking for a favor from their old rivals.

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