It was deja-vu all over again for Manchester City as the Premier League champions opened their title defence with a thrilling win over newly-promoted Southampton. Not only was the score exactly the same as that never-to-be-forgotten final home game against Queens Park Rangers last season, so was the scoring sequence, and even the ends they went in at the Etihad Stadium.
The major difference was that this time, City did not wait until injury-time before responding to falling behind. Edin Dzeko was the man who equalised again though, before Samir Nasri fired home the winner ten minutes from time.
Southampton started with optimism and intent but were soon swamped by City’s brilliance. Although David Silva missed a 17th-minute penalty, City went ahead five minutes before the break when Carlos Tevez latched onto Samir Nasri’s through ball and swept in a right-footed finish.
City were wasteful in front of goal today, with Dzeko, Clichy and Silva all wasting great chances and Southampton made them pay.
The Saints brought on their top scorer Rickie Lambert from a year ago and he wasted no time introducing himself to the Premier League. He was only on the pitch for three minutes when he seized on a loose ball on the edge of the City box and guided it superbly into the corner of Joe Hart’s goal.
If the crowd at the Ethiad was stunned by that goal, they were shocked nine minutes later when Rodwell gifted possession to Southampton inside his own half, allowing the visitors to pour forward and Steven Davis finished off the classic counter-attack with the goal to put Southampton in front.
But City showed why they are champions when four minutes later Edin Džeko pulled City level with a first-time shot after Vincent Kompany’s piledriver had been blocked. And ten minutes from time, somewhat earlier than before, Nasri belted home from 12 yards to complete yet another thrilling comeback.
In the days other game, big money signing Eden Hazard made an immediate impact, creating two goals in the first seven minutes as Chelsea won 2-0 at Wigan.
First he easily went by Wigan’s Ivan Ramis and played a perfect ball through for the onrushing Ivanovic, who showed good composure to run on and slot the ball past Ali Al Habsi.
Then a couple of minutes later Ramis hacked down Hazard in the penalty area and Frank Lampard tucked away the penalty to give Chelsea the three points.