Title hopefuls Manchester City crushed visitors Southampton 4-1 helped by a two-goal sucker punch moments before halftime to keep the pressure on Liverpool and Chelsea at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Goals from Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko put the 2012 champions 3-1 ahead at the interval, after Yaya Toure had given City an early lead with a penalty, and substitute Stevan Jovetic extended the advantage nine minutes from time at the Etihad. Rickie Lambert briefly raised Southampton’s hopes with a spot kick to make it 1-1 after 37 minutes but in the end the south coast side, who had England forward Jay Rodriguez carried off with a serious-looking knee injury, were well beaten.
The win took City up to second place with 70 points, one behind Liverpool who visit West Ham United on Sunday. Chelsea, with 69 points, can move past them both with a win at home to Stoke City later on Saturday. City have a match in hand on both of their fellow title chasers. However, the size of the defeat was harsh on eighth-placed Southampton who had looked threatening before conceding the two quick goals in first half added time.
Manchester United moved above Tottenham Hotspur into sixth place with a 4-0 win at Newcastle United, Juan Mata scoring twice and Javier Hernandez and Adnan Januzaj adding one each, although they lost Ashley Young with a hand injury. Mata, who last week got his first United goal since joining from Chelsea in January, scored with a delightful first half free kick before Shinji Kagawa and Hernandez set him up for his and United’s second soon after the break.
The Mexico striker added a third before Mata set up Januzaj for the fourth as Alan Pardew’s Newcastle side slumped to a second straight 4-0 loss with the win boosting United who visit Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Southampton were on the back foot immediately at Manchester City when Jose Fonte brought down Bosnia striker Dzeko after three minutes, with Ivorian Toure converting his sixth penalty from six attempts this season for his 18th league goal overall.
Southampton suffered a major blow after 23 minutes, however, when Rodriguez landed awkwardly on his right leg after attempting to control a high ball, forcing him off in obvious distress. The Saints drew level through Lambert’s penalty, his 11th league goal this season, after Jack Cork was felled just inside the area by defender Pablo Zabaleta in the 36th minute. The visitors looked like they would go into the break deservedly level but instead let their good work go to waste by allowing City to wrestle back control with two strikes.
First, Frenchman Nasri sidefooted home after being set up following a fine move involving Toure, continued…