MANCHESTER CITY (3) vs SOUTHAMPTON (2)
MANCHESTER City manager Roberto Mancini revealed that the apparent injury to Sergio Aguero remained his greatest concern after his side began their Premier League title defence with a challenging 3-2 victory over Southampton.
Argentina’s Aguero was removed on a stretcher in only the 13th minute after clutching his knee and though in his absence City fought back from 2-1 down, Mancini’s thoughts surrounded those of his fallen striker and not the winning goals of Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri.
“I am worried about Sergio because anything around the knee is dangerous and this injury was so strange,” said Mancini, whose side had fallen behind after second-half goals from Southampton substitutes Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis.
“We will have to wait, but we are not sure exactly what the problem is at this point. We will know more after he has had a scan. Until then, we must wait.
“We must defend better than we did but we’ve only been back together as a team for two weeks and we will improve.
“The first game of a new season is never easy so I am happy we have ended with a victory.”
It was in the 40th minute when Tevez gave City the lead but if newly-promoted Southampton are to continue to play with such poise and purpose, manager Nigel Adkins may yet enjoy a league finish far higher than just survival and said afterwards that his intention would be to continue to attack.
“We try to play football the right way, we try and pass it but we have to find ways to win games in the Premier League,” said Adkins. “We have to keep our belief strong that we can come away from home and win points because that’s what we have to do.
“Their movement is outstanding and if you allow them space and time they’re going to hurt you but we’ll learn.
“We ran them close but our endeavour is to win. We’ve got to find ways to win.”
Tevez’s goal arrived after David Silva, seizing an opportunity presented by defender Jos Hooiveld’s foul on the striker, harmlessly stroked the ball into the diving Kelvin Davis’s hands from a poorly placed penalty in a half that was largely an even affair.
Breaking clear and composed beyond the Southampton defence, Tevez finished powerfully inside Davis’s near post and at that point it appeared as though the champions would begin to take control, but due to the ambitions of Adkins and Southampton’s adventure, the visitors assumed an unpredictable lead.
Soon after the second half’s start, Edin Dzeko, Gael Clichy, Silva and Nasri all wasted promising opportunities to give City a probably-unassailable advantage and when Southampton levelled it appeared as though they would pay. Collecting the loose ball in a crowded City penalty area, Lambert calmly curled beyond Joe Hart and inside the far post for the equalising goal and within only a matter of minutes, the visitors had taken the lead.
After attacking £12m debutant Jack Rodwell’s poor pass, Southampton broke with Steven Davis before the midfielder curled his side ahead from the edge of the area, though it took only a further few minutes for Dzeko to level once more.
The ever-influential Yaya Toure assisted the striker from the closest of range, before a Clichy cross, 10 minutes from the end, fell to Nasri to finish for the powerfully-struck winner.