Nearly the biggest upset anyone could think of happened at the Etihad stadium, but Samir Nasri on a fantastic day, one of his best since joining Manchester City, scored the winner 10 minutes from time after Southampton made life very difficult for a wasteful defending champions, giving them a 3-2 win.
The popular choice for finishing last in the Premier League at the end of the season weren’t afraid of attacking or trying to retain possession for a while with more than 2 or 3 players joining the attack. However, it didn’t really matter in the first half, which was completely a Manchester City affair, slightly struggling with their short passing game, but dominating the match nonetheless.
The first big opportunity was Carlos Tevez winning a penalty kick, but David Silva put in an embarrassing effort, easily stopped by Kelvin Davis, the busiest man on the pitch. About 23 minutes later it was Carlos Tevez again, maybe offside, finding himself in a one on one opportunity, making the most of it and giving City a 1-0 lead, promising that his season will be very different than the one he missed most of last season.
The second half was more City missing opportunities, especially David Silva, which eventually led to some tense moments for the champions. Rickie Lambert came off the bench in the 55th minute, and four minutes later was already on top of things with a clinical finish, just like he had so many of in the Championship last season, stunning the stadium with the equalizer. Nine minutes later and another substitute, Steven Davis, gave everyone a deja vu feeling from the QPR match of last season by putting the Saints 2-1 up.
Roberto Mancini decided it was time to throw away David Silva, the weakest player on the pitch for him alongside Jack Rodwell, and threw in Mario Balotelli to team up with Edin Dzeko, who entered the match earlier after Sergio Aguero picked up an injury. Just like last season, it was Dzeko with the equlaizer. The winning goal? No Sergio Aguero, so Samir Nasri, the best man on the pitch, surprisingly, who came up with the finish after some bad defending from Southampton.
Mancini surprised many by giving Rodwell the start, and he wasn’t exactly influential on the match, with his bad pass off a corner kick leading to Southampton’s second goal. If he will be paired up with Yaya Toure, he’ll have to learn to be the more defensive of the midfield duo, because Toure is much more effective when he’s free to join the attacking foursome.
Southampton? Nearly got a perfect start, but eventually, can’t complain after City missed at least four more opportunities of 100% goals on a different day. But they might not be as bad as some predicted they’ll be, not at all, if the work rate and audacity remains consistent throughout the season.