Southampton welcomed Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side to St Mary’s Stadium earlier today for our final match of 2018.
With some reasons for cheer under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and a good bounce in results and performances, this was a tough game to follow the West Ham United loss as despite their own wobbles of late, City’s quality is clear for all to see.
If there are small positives to take from the game, we did keep battling away and they needed a bit of luck to make it 2-1, after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had levelled matters up as Raheem Sterling’s shot deflected off James Ward-Prowse in the 45th minute. They quickly made it 3-1 before the break and that was where the scoring ended.
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They dominated the ball and chances, but we had good efforts and in terms of efforts on target, they only mustered two more than we did.
The game did make history though, Hojbjerg became the first Danish player to score and be sent off in a single Premier League game and he becomes the third Southampton player to do that following Sadio Mane (Liverpool 2015) and Peter Crouch (Crystal Palace 2005) – he has just returned from a ban as well.
Speaking to the BBC following the game, Hasenhuttl explained.
“The first 15-20 minutes we were not very good but we smelt a bit of sensation when we equalised. We saw that Man City is not that confident in the moment like they are when they win week after week. We tried to push ourselves back into the game and press a little bit earlier but we saw when they have time to turn they are dangerous. At half time we thought about preparing the guys for a good second half but in the mind was also the next game against Chelsea. And then the worst thing happened in the red card for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg which is disappointing because he is one of the most important players in our team. In a game which is 3-1 and with only five minutes to go, you have to ask the use of such a tackle. He knows it was the wrong decision but it doesn’t help us in the moment.”
Chelsea won’t be any easier.