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Guardiola hails ‘exceptional’ Haaland and De Bruyne as Man City cruise to 4-1 win

Manchester City maintained their pressure on Arsenal at the top of the Premier League with a 4-1 win over Southampton on the South Coast.

Manchester City unsurprisingly dominated proceedings from the off against the Premier League’s bottom side, though to be fair to Southampton, they more than looked comfortable in defence.

 

They even created a couple of presentable chances for themselves, the best seeing the lively Kamaldeen Sulemana play the ball across goal and into a dangerous area, but no Southampton player was able to get on the end of it.

Erling Haaland had been a somewhat peripheral figure for the Champions for most of the first half, though as the game approached stoppage time, the Norwegian goal machine netted his 43rd of the season as he headed home an inch-perfect Kevin de Bruyne delivery from the left.

City upped the tempo after the break and doubled their advantage 13 minutes into the second half. De Bruyne released Jack Grealish down the left who took a touch to take himself into the area, and while his initial effort was saved by former City ‘keeper Gavin Bazunu, the ball rebounded straight to the England international who made no mistake at the second time of asking.

10 minutes later, the two goalscorers combined to make it 3-0 as De Bruyne again released Grealish down the left. The 27-year-old clipped a delightful ball across the box to pick out Haaland who then produced a superb overhead kick to take his Premier League tally to 30 for the season.

Southampton brought on Moussa Djenepo and Sekou Mara, and within three minutes the pair combined to pull one back for the Saints, though City almost immediately re-established their three-goal advantage after Kyle Walker-Peters brought down De Bruyne in the area and Julian Alvarez despatched the resulting spot kick.

The result moves City back to within five points of the league leaders, and speaking afterwards Pep Guardiola was full of praise for Southampton.

“Southampton were incredible in the first half, really organised,” he told Sky Sports. “We were a little sloppy, we were fortunate to score on the edge of the first half but the second half was much, much better.

“They kept fighting and were a good opponent for us. It was not easy, sometimes you have to give credit to the opponent. I have respect for them.”

Kevin de Bruyne’s assist for Haaland’s first was his 100th in the Premier League, reaching the milestone quicker than any other player in the competition’s history.

“Kevin is playing at that level. He was involved in many things. He is exceptional. There are players who need to play at 40% but he is a guy who needs to play for every action at a high, high level.

“When one player has this 80-90% intensity and ability to see the passes he is more calm than the ones at 40%. He is an exceptional player.”

Meanwhile, Erling Haaland recorded his 43rd and 44th goals of the season, and Guardiola said it was precisely the type of game that the striker was signed for.

“I think our bosses bought him for this type of game, we are uncomfortable and not playing at our best level but he gets the goal. The second you can’t imagine at his height he has this ability. Exceptional goal.”

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