Premier League - City thump Southampton to close gap on Liverpool

Premier League, Etihad Stadium – Manchester City 4 (Toure 2, Nasri 45+1, Dzeko 45+3, Jovetic 81) Southampton 1 (Lambert 37)

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Premier League - City thump Southampton to close gap on Liverpool
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Edin Dzeko of Manchester City is congratulated by teammate David Silva (R) after scoring his team's third goal past goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga of Southampton

Manchester City moved to within one point of leaders Liverpool with a 4-1 win over Southampton at the Etihad Stadium, and the Premier League title challengers still have a game in hand.

The hosts took the lead inside the opening two minutes of the match as Jose Fonte needlessly stuck out a leg as Edin Dzeko burst into the Southampton penalty area, hauling the Bosnian to the floor. City’s talismanic midfielder Yaya Toure stepped up to convert his sixth penalty of the season.

The Saints hurried and harried the hosts, continuously knocking on the door, but were dealt a real blow as England striker Jay Rodriguez was forced off with a serious-looking knee injury.

The set-back spurred Southampton on, though, and they were soon level through the match’s second penalty. In what was almost a carbon copy of City’s spot-kick, Pablo Zabaleta was duped into making a rash challenge on the edge of his area, tripping Jack Cork to allow Rickie Lambert to level the scores.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in the opening half, Southampton looked in the ascendancy, but a whirlwind three minutes of stoppage time saw City put the game beyond doubt as they added two quick fire goals.

Samir Nasri grabbed his side’s second of the match following an intricate passing move, though David Silva was clearly offside in the build-up, rolling the ball home from six yards. And shortly after it was 3-1, with Dzeko nodding home a wicked Aleksandar Kolarov cross from the left.

Time and time again City pressed, looking for a fourth goal to wrap up the tie, and found it with 10 minutes to go as substitute Stevan Jovetic, who had been on the pitch just a matter of minutes, was found by Zabaleta’s pinpoint cross at the far post to roll the ball home.

[OFFICIALS MAKE CRAZY OFFSIDE GAFFE IN CITY WIN]

KEY MOMENTS

2’ - PENALTY TO CITY: Jose Fonte hauls down Dzeko and City have an early penalty.

4’ - CITY TAKE THE LEAD: GOAL!! No doubt whatsoever. Toure steps up, sending Gazzaniga the wrong way to convert his sixth penalty of the season.

34’ - CROSSBAR!! Dzeko should score Toure’s set-piece from the right-hand side of the penalty area is sent towards the unmarked Bosnian at the far post, but his header cannons off the bar.

36’ - PENALTY TO SOUTHAMPTON: Zabaleta guilty of a poor challenge, tripping Cork inside the box.

37’ - GOAL, SOUTHAMPTON ARE LEVEL!! Hart guesses the right way, but Lambert's spot-kick is too good, creeping just inside of the right-hand post.

45+1’ - CITY RETAKE THE LEAD!! And what a goal that is!! A really, really intricate passing move ends with Nasri sliding the ball past Gazzaniga from six yards. There's a big shout for offside as Silva receives the ball in the box, but you can't take anything away from the quality of the move. It was worked beautifully and finished expertly. 2-1.

45+3’- IT’S THREE FOR CITY: This game looks over. Kolarov is sent free down the left and fizzes in a magnificent ball, right onto the head of Dzeko five yards from goal. There was nothing Gazzaniga could have done about it, and you’ve just got to applaud that goal. There was a big doubt about Nasri’s goal, but nothing wrong with the third.

74’ - CHANCE FOR SAINTS: A neat little move on the edge of the City box culminates in Lallana’s reverse pass playing in Lambert. The striker is definitely onside and only has Hart to beat, but he drags his shot wide of the goal. Great chance to get his side back in the match.

80’ - CITY HIT FOUR! Another lovely goal. Kompany starts it off as he sends Zabaleta down the right, allowing for the full-back to drill the ball across the face of the goal. Gazzaniga can't get there as Jovetic pokes home.

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KEY STATS

Yaya Toure converted his sixth penalty of the season

Edin Dzeko has now scored in three of his four matches against Southampton

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

TALKING POINT – Do City have what it takes to leapfrog Liverpool and claim the Premier League title? City rounded off another impressive Etihad performance with four goals, but they looked shaky at times – most notably in the first half. There’s no doubt that they have goals in them, but look unsteady at the back. With a trip to Anfield next week and Suarez and Sturridge to face, they are sure to face their toughest challenge yet.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Samir Nasri, Manchester City: The Frenchman was in fine form once again, orchestrating most of City's positive play. Although his goal was undoubtedly offside, it was taken well and capped off a neat City move.

PLAYER RATINGS

Man City: Hart 6, Zabaleta 7, Kompany 6, Demichelis 6, Kolarov 7, Navas 6, Fernandinho 7, Toure 7, Nasri 8, Silva 7, Dzeko 7. Subs: Garcia 6, Jovetic 6, Negredo 6.

Southampton: Gazzaniga 5, Chambers 6, Fonte 6, Lovren 6, Shaw 6, Cork 6, Schneiderlin 6, S. Davis 6, Lallana 7, Rodriguez 5, Lambert 6. Subs: Wanyama 5, Ward-Prowse 6, Gallagher 5.

THE MATCH IN A TWEET

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