Southampton 1-4 Manchester City: Pep Guardiola’s side into FA Cup semi-finals

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says not many players in world football could have scored Phil Foden's goal in the 4-1 win Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says not many players in world football could have scored Phil Foden's goal in the 4-1 win at Southampton.at Southampton.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says not many players in world football could have scored Phil Foden’s goal in the 4-1 win at Southampton.

The Saints were in contention for more than an hour in a tight encounter at St Mary’s after Aymeric Laporte’s own goal on the stroke of half-time cancelled out Raheem Sterling’s early effort.

This FA Cup quarter-final turned on Mohammed Salisu’s reckless challenge on Gabriel Jesus that saw Kevin de Bruyne restore City’s lead from the penalty spot after 62 minutes, effectively ending Southampton’s challenge.

Foden came off the bench to score a magnificent third and Riyad Mahrez rounded the afternoon off with 12 minutes left.

Guardiola claimed Foden and Mahrez made the difference in breaking down a brave Southampton side.

Speaking about the 21-year-old England international’s goal, the City boss said: “A few, there are not many but a few, he is one of them who has [the ability to score from there].

“He has an incredible shot, he’s quick, fast, he’s a fantastic player – we know it. Close to the box he has a sense of goal, he was really brilliant.

“It was a tight game, it was [like] in the Premier League games against Southampton because of the quality they have. They are incredibly organised and in front of the ball they are so aggressive and of course have a good build-up.

“But after 2-1, the second half we were much much better and in the end the quality from Phil and Riyad made the difference.”

City will face either Nottingham Forest or Liverpool, who meet at the City Ground later on Sunday, for a place in the final.

Man City get the job done

Manchester City ran out emphatic winners but until Salisu’s needless intervention that resulted in De Bruyne’s penalty they were threatening to pay a price for carelessness in possession.

Once De Bruyne had scored, however, City showed the quality and ruthlessness that has put them at the top of the Premier League and still in contention for the FA Cup and Champions League.

Manager Pep Guardiola can also introduce such strength off the bench, illustrated by the contributions from Foden and Mahrez.

Foden’s 75th-minute goal was a thing of beauty, a rising drive from 20 yards that made a sweet thudding sounded that echoed around St Mary’s once he struck with his left foot.

Mahrez scored one goal and could have had more but once again the great orchestrator was man-of-the-match De Bruyne, pulling the strings and stepping forward to beat Fraser Forster with a penalty that put City back in charge.

The fact that City can win so convincingly without touching the heights they are capable of will sound an ominous warning to anyone wanting to deprive them of any of those three major prizes they will contest between now and the end of the season.

Saints undone by Salisu challenge

Southampton were giving as good as they were getting until Salisu’s unnecessary tackle on Jesus, hardly in a dangerous position and with the game in the balance.

City gratefully accepted the gift and a vibrant atmosphere inside a packed St Mary’s was instantly subdued as if both Southampton’s players and fans sensed this was the decisive moment.

And so it proved as City took advantage of deflated Saints, who had played with so much energy and deserved so much credit for that first 62 minutes, even hitting the post through Adam Armstrong at 0-0.

The high-intensity style that has made them such difficult opponents for so many teams this season was rushing City into errors in possession, one of which required a fine save from keeper Zack Steffen moments before De Bruyne put the visitors back in front.

Saints might even have scored a second equaliser when substitute Che Adams’ point-blank effort was blocked by Steffen but this was an FA Cup quarter-final that had its destiny decided by Salisu’s challenge.

This is not to say Southampton would have gone on to win but that incident changed the emphasis of the tie and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team had handed the initiative back to Manchester City, never the best of ideas.

Saints have contributed much to the FA Cup this season but all that remains now is for them to continue to ensure Premier League respectability and consolidation in a season that has contained plenty of promise.