Saturday, 5 April 2014

Manchester City vs Southampton - LIVE Commentary:

2nd vs 8th: City host Southampton in the early afternoon kick-off at The Ethiad.
Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have a live commentary of the game between Manchester City and Southampton which was played at The Ethiad Stadium as the first match of the EPL weekend for all to enjoy. 

City could move within one point of league leaders Liverpool with a win at home, with a game in hand over Brendan Rodgers' men who play against West Ham away from home tomorrow afternoon (Sunday at 4pm).

Meanwhile the visitors Southampton are in a comfortable position going into the match in 8th place, with a potential European place still up for grabs (8 points behind Manchester United in 6th, 12 points behind Everton in 5th) 

Here are the team line-ups going into the match:

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Navas, Fernandinho, Toure, Nasri, Silva and Dzeko.

Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Garcia, Milner, Negredo and Jovetic. 

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Chambers, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Cork, Schneiderlin, S.Davis, Lallana, Rodriguez and Lambert.

Subs: Cropper, Clyne, Wanyama, Guly, Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse and Gallagher.

LIVE Commentary: 

0: The referee blows his whistle to start the match at The Ethiad, with both sides pumped to get off to the best start possible in an interesting game. 

2: PENALTY! City have a great chance to break the deadlock after just 2 minutes after Fonte is penalized for sticking a high leg out under the challenge as Dzeko bursts into the box. The referee points to the spot as Fonte was clumsy enough to dangle his leg out at the wrong point, while Dzeko had an excuse to go to ground. 

The replays show that there was not a lot of contact between Fonte and Dzeko, but you could argue that Fonte was impeding Dzeko's movement and the penalty was eventually given. Dive? Maybe. But it's a clumsy penalty to give away. 

Pointing to the spot: Dzeko wins a penalty after a clumsy challenge by Fonte in the box
Dispute: Southampton are furious with Foy's decision as they felt Dzeko went down too easily
3: Yaya Toure holds the ball in his hand as he steps up to take the spot-kick. He stands firm, and slots the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net. 1-0 to City, and Toure's 22nd goal in all competitions this season. 

Early finish: Yaya Toure sends the keeper the wrong way to give City an early lead

FACT: Toure has now scored his last 6 penalties, and has scored 10 of his 12 set-pieces this season. 4 free-kicks also.

4: Good link-up play by City to create a chance out of nothing. Navas nutmegs Shaw with a ball to Zabaleta near the box, he pulls the ball back to Nasri who fails to connect with the shot properly though and the strike ends up firing past Gazzaniga into the advertising boards. Encouraging. 

8: Great inviting ball by Jay Rodriguez to spot Lambert lurking inside the City box, but the English striker struggles to get his head on the delivery and the cross fires over his head and out for a goal-kick. Lambert apologises to his team-mate Rodriguez, he knows it was a good opportunity to draw level. 

It just shows how quickly Southampton can counter attack and create chances out of nothing, but the question remains whether they can test Joe Hart enough to force him into making saves and eventually scoring. 

11: Two corners in quick succession for Southampton, but City stay strong at the back to clear the danger on both occasions despite Shaw bursting forward on the flank.

15: Great dinked over-the-top ball by Lambert to find Lallana bursting forward into the City box, but the English creative midfielder struggles to latch onto the ball and Hart comes out to pressure him into giving City a goal-kick. Close.

16: Silva whips in an inswinging free-kick into the box, with the resulting ball falling to Kolarov who heads the ball over the bar. He would have liked to have done better after a precise delivery. 

17: This stat proves that Southampton have been dominating the match so far, but have nothing to show for it:
Possession: - City, 35%, Southampton, 65%

22: Oh dear. Jay Rodriguez has gone down injured on the turf after stretching for a ball in mid-air, and it doesn't look good for Southampton now. 

Sad to see: England hopeful Jay Rodriguez screams in pain after landing awkwardly
Looks bad: Rodriguez clutches his ankle and his knee after he lands awkwardly on the turf

Southampton players huddle around him as they try to find out what happened, and how badly Rodriguez is injured
Replays show that he bent his foot backwards, his knee buckled as he tried to land properly and England manager Roy Hodgson is looking concerned in the stands. Does not look good at all. 
Not good: England manager Roy Hodgson looks on as Rodriguez is being treated
26: Everyone is applauding Rodriguez as he is being stretchered off the pitch, he looks distraught because he knows that this injury could be potentially serious and he may have done some ACL damage of some sort, which would virtually kill his World Cup hopes. 

Cause for concern: Rodriguez was stretchered off the pitch, to applause from both sets of fans who appreciate the fact that he could miss the World Cup for England
27: Southampton SUB:
Jay Rodriguez OFF (injury)
James Ward-Prowse ON

Ward-Prowse replaces Rodriguez, and will sit in Lallana's role in midfield. High energy player who is a great passer of the ball. I for one would have started him ahead of Cork, at least now he gets his chance. 

28: Southampton have a free-kick, 25 yards out. Lambert is standing over the set-piece and he has many options. He can deliver the ball into the box for a team-mate to head, or he can go for goal himself... 

He hits a curling effort towards goal.... wide of Hart's goal. The ball skids off the turf and bounces out for a City goal-kick. Disappointing. 

33: City given a free-kick just outside the box, with Yaya Toure going down under the challenge by Croatian defender Dejan Lovren. Lovren is clearly unhappy about the decision, he believes that Toure dived and there was barely any contact.

The replays show that Lovren is right to be upset, Toure goes down too easily for a big man as strong and as powerful as him. Free-kick decision cannot be changed though, with City getting the benefit of the doubt. 

Nasri takes the inswinging free-kick, finding Dzeko at the far post with a free header towards goal, but his header hits the top of the crossbar and bounces off for a goal-kick to Southampton. A warning for the visitors, as they are exploited for sloppy marking at the back momentarily. 

35: PENALTY! Southampton have the chance to equalise! Jack Cork runs at the City defence, before going one-on-one with Zabaleta just inside the box, as Zabaleta sticks out a leg to halt Cork's run into the box. 

Late: Zabaleta sticks a leg out to block Cork's run into the box, giving away a penalty
The referee has no choice but to point to the spot because Zabaleta cleared blocked Cork and was quick to protest that he fouled Cork OUTSIDE the box even though it was inside. 

36: Lambert steps up to take the penalty. He doesn't miss. Lambert vs Hart, two Englishmen who have virtually confirmed their place in the World Cup squad in Brazil. Lambert shoots..... 

GOAL! 1-1 and you cannot say that it's not a deserved goal! Hart dives the right way but is punished by an accurate strike towards goal. 

Doesn't miss: Lambert equalised for Southampton from the penalty spot in the 36th minute
Deserved: Lambert celebrates his penalty finish with his Saints team-mates to make it 1-1. 
40: You can tell that the home fans are getting slightly disgruntled with their team, they cannot believe that they have not taken more of their chances so far. Dzeko will be disappointed that his header hit the crossbar instead of the back of the net earlier on. 

Disappointing: If Dzeko had taken his chances, City would be even further ahead
42: Southampton do well to burst forward on the counter attack with full-backs Shaw and Chambers both instrumental on the flanks providing danger for Zabaleta and Kolarov, but Kompany and Demichelis are quick to clear their lines. Still 1-1 with a few minutes to play until half-time.

44: Yellow card given to City's Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernandinho who uses his hands to stop play as a Southampton player tries to lift the ball over his head and start a counter attack. He knew what he was doing, referee Chris Foy brandishes a booking, which is Fernandinho's 7th of the season. 

45: Good link-up play by City, Nasri to Toure, to Dzeko with a back-heel flick back to Silva who weaves his way into the Southampton area, he finds Nasri open in space.... GOAL! Nasri simply couldn't miss from a few yards out, a good team goal from City and they will take a lead into the half-time break. 

Couldn't miss: Nasri slotted the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-1 before half-time
Southampton are claiming that the goal should not be allowed as they feel that Silva is offside, and it looks like he IS... Linesman and the referee do not think so, the goal STANDS. 

45+1: The fourth official has signalled for 4 minutes of stoppage time while the goal was being scored, after Rodriguez had to receive treatment before being stretchered off the pitch earlier on in the game. 

45+2: Replays show that Silva was in fact ONSIDE when the ball was played by Toure to Dzeko, but when Dzeko back-heeled the ball towards him he was in fact OFFSIDE. So the goal should NOT have counted. Confusing stuff. 

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino is furious that the decision has not gone his way and rightly so because his side now look hard done by and they need the half to end as soon as possible before City score another goal...

45+3: Some more good passing and moving by City in midfield, good ball from Nasri to Kolarov who crosses the ball hard and high into the box for Dzeko who is lurking inside the box... 

GOAL! Gazzaniga struggles to get to the ball in time and dives too late while Dzeko heads the ball calmly into the corner of the net. 3-1 to City, and it's arguably undeserved. 

Dzeko pounced on a mistake from Gazzaniga to head City into a 3-1 lead at half-time
45+4: The referee Chris Foy blows his whistle to end the first-half of action at The Ethiad, with City leading Southampton 3-1 at half-time in an interesting encounter with 4 goals in 45 minutes to enjoy. 

City arguably should not be winning, and Southampton will feel hard done by after decisions not going their way, but they will just have to deal with it and try to get back into the game and avoid conceding more goals, or the game will turn into a City rout. 

45: The referee has blown his whistle to start the second-half of action at The Ethiad, with City manager Manuel Pellegrini making a smart substitution as the-already booked Fernandinho is replaced by Javi Garcia in a straight swap in midfield.

47: City start the second-half quickly on the counter attack, looking for another goal to virtually kill off the match.

48: Navas' pace sees him sprint towards the touchline as he tries to position himself well to cross the ball into the box, but Gazzaniga comes out of his area to gather. 

51: Shaw is penalized after an accidental hand-ball blocks Silva from finding a way through into midfield. City free-kick. 

52: Great defending by Shaw to deny Navas running down the flank, he has been solid throughout today and a good performance by the highly-rated left-back. 

54: Yaya Toure bursts into the penalty area with the ball at his feet but is denied by a combination of defensive pairing Fonte and Lovren. He appeals for another penalty after falling down to the turf, but the referee waves play on. Correct decision. 

57: CHANCE! City dominating in terms of chances now... Dzeko is given a clear-cut opportunity down the left flank, with his first effort being parried by Gazzaniga before the rebound is sliced inaccurately wide with the goal gaping. 
Southampton throw-in, Dzeko should have a hat-trick already. 

59: Silva is really showing his class in this match. He is waltzing past the Southampton midfield and they are struggling to keep pace with him as he dictates the play and the tempo of the game. They cannot handle him.

62: Southampton get a chance of their own as Cork, Lambert and Lallana link-up nicely to play their way into the City area. Lambert's final ball for Lallana lacks a bit of pace and powerful, with City clearing the danger partially. Corner. 

63: Corner comes of nothing, as City clear. 

65: City SUB:
Edin Dzeko OFF
Alvaro Negredo ON

Negredo comes on as fresh legs for Pellegrini's side, with Dzeko happy to have scored today but may feel that he could have had a hat-trick easily if he had taken his chances. 

68: Lallana shows his attacking strength by nutmegging Garcia easily before pushing forward towards the City area, before Navas has a shot from a tight angle parried by the Southampton goalkeeper.

Then, Javi Garcia goes into the referee's book after a nasty-looking tackle on Lallana's achilles. Dangerous, and the yellow card given is rightly-so. 

72: An exquisite ball from Silva sets Negredo in a good position towards goal, but he takes too long on the ball and tries to cut the ball back onto his right foot but allows Fonte to track back and dispossess him of the ball.

Negredo is on a goal drought, and you can certainly tell by the way he is moving. Not as confident as he was earlier on in the season.

75: Another lovely dinked ball from Lallana plays in Lambert, but his resulting strike fires across goal and wide from a tight angle. Getting there. 

76: Southampton SUB:
Steven Davis OFF
Sam Gallagher ON

78: Manchester City SUB:
David Silva OFF
Stefan Jovetic ON

10 minutes or so for Jovetic who replaces my MOTM Silva who has been instrumental in helping to create chances out of nothing for City. Controversy over whether the second goal was offside or not but it was out of his control, and he has played well regardless. 

78: Ridiculous! Yaya Toure is booked for diving un-necessarily for an unbelievable dive after powering into the Southampton area. He can have no complaints, it's stupid that you would do something like that. Not saying that if you were to dive, there would have to be a purpose but still. 

80: Southampton SUB:
Jack Cork OFF
Victor Wanyama ON 

Pochettino's last change of the day sees Kenyan powerhouse Wanyama replace Cork with 10 minutes to play. Solidify the midfield. 

81: GOAL! City have made it 4-1 thanks to a first home EPL goal for striker Stefan Jovetic who taps the ball into an empty net from Navas' inviting early cross which brings out two Southampton defenders and Gazzaniga who are fooled by the swerve of the cross.

First goal at home: Jovetic celebrates his finish to give City a 4-1 lead with minutes to spare
83: Negredo has a half-chance to make it 5-1 after the Spaniard is played in but struggles to slot the ball past Gazzaniga, who makes a good block to deny him from ending his goal drought. 

FACT: Alvaro Negredo has not scored since January. 

86: Time running out for Southampton, and they will be thankful. They do not deserve this at all, losing 4-1 away from home despite having played well today shows how easily you can be punished on the break.

90: The fourth official has signalled for 3 minutes of stoppage time to be played. 

90+1: Toure seems to be struggling with a knock, as he takes a breather in the centre circle with his head in his hands. Replays show it was as a result of the impact from a 50-50 collision with Lambert a minute or so beforehand.

90+2: City are happy to keep possession of the ball as they look to close out the match with seconds to go, Nasri holding the ball near the corner flag while Shaw is pressing him to try and dispossess him. 

90+3: Referee Chris Foy blows his whistle to end the match at The Ethiad Stadium, with City moving within a point of Liverpool with a match in hand over the league leaders.

The interesting match will obviously be City vs Liverpool next weekend, the top two. 

Southampton did not deserve to lose the way they did today, especially as the scoreline suggests that the game was a rout but in-fact it was the opposite. The Saints were unlucky with a few decisions, and City were riding their luck at times. 

Southampton were unlucky to lose the way they did against City, despite dominating
An injury to Jay Rodriguez will be the main focus for Southampton now, they need to assess him and hope that he is okay and the injury is not as serious as first feared to get him to the World Cup.