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August 19, 2012
• Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 46190
C. Tévez 40'
E. Džeko 72'
S. Nasri 80'
R. Lambert 59'
S. Davis 68'
So the champions begin the season as they finished the last, with a hard-fought 3-2 win against newly-promoted opposition. Roberto Mancini will hope that such portends point to another title, but he will need to look closely at how his side threatened to throw away what looked likely to be a comfortable victory. Nigel Adkins will be disappointed to leave with nothing, but the Saints' faithful will be buoyed by their side's spirited display during arguably their toughest match of the season. I've been Joe Wright, and thanks for tuning in for this afternoon's thrilling Premier League action - be sure to join us next time on Goal.com!
90' + 3'
The referee blows for full time, and what started as a tepid affair turned into a five-goal thriller which reached boling point in the second half. Southampton gave a great account of themselves upon their top-flight return, and looked as though they could spring a huge shock until Dzeko and Nasri earned City all three points.
90' + 2'
Southampton's latest attack breaks down and Balotelli brings the ball clear. Mancini is bellowing at his players to get further up the pitch as City look to hold on for the final minute.
Davis looks for Sharp at the far post, he crosses the ball from the left and Lescott clears. Three minutes of injury time to play here...
Southampton are now pressing for an equaliser. Kolarov heads Lallana's long ball out for a throw, and Balotelli chases the ball all the way back to Fonte. City are working hard to preserve their slender advantage.
Schneiderlin is booked for blocking Tevez's run, and that proves to be the final action for the Argentine who is replaced by Kolarov for the closing minutes here.
Yellow Card Morgan Schneiderlin
Sharp is now on for Puncheon. Can Adkins work his magic from the dugout one more time to rescue a point for Saints?
Chance for Fonte - over the bar! Puncheon's cross is headed back across by Lambert but the centre-back fails to keep his effort down. Southampton are preparing to bring on Billy Sharp for the final few minutes here.
Nasri has been booked for his celebration, but if City hold on here, he won't care a jot about that. It was a poor goal to concede from Southampton's point of view, but they have rallied and Schneiderlin wins a corner as his shot is deflected behind.
Yellow Card Samir Nasri
Goal Samir Nasri
GOAL!! And the champions are back in front! Clichy is allowed time and space to cross from the left, Fox can only head the ball straight out to Nasri, and the France international fires his half-volley off the ground and into the roof of the net. City back in front!
Chance - just wide! Toure crosses from the right and Dzeko leaps superbly to turn a flying header goalwards, but the ball fizzes just wide of Davis' left-hand post. The visitors are just about hanging on here.
The corner comes to nothing but City are camped in Southampton's half now. Toure fires in a free-kick from 30 yards and Davis punches straight back out into the middle of the box but Saints survive.
What a chance for Balotelli! The substitute finds himself in almost exacltly the same place as Dzeko a moment ago, but he can only turn Tevez's cross into the side-netting! Brilliant tempo to the game now, as Clichy wins a corner from Fonte.
Assist Yaya Touré
Goal Edin Dzeko
GOAL!! 2-2!! Saints fail to clear Nasri's corner, the ball drops to Dzeko who tucks home calmly from six yards at the near post.
What an incredible turnaround here, and what an inspired double substitution from Adkins as both Lambert and Davis score just minutes after being introduced. City are probing for an equaliser now...
Assist Adam Lallana
Goal Steven Davis
GOAL!! And it's Southampton who are in front!! Tevez's free kick hit the wall and Rodwell lost possession following the corner. Saints broke in number, the ball ended up at the feet of the substitute Davis and the Premier League new-boys are in front against the champions!
Free-kick for City in a dangerous position 25 yards from goal. Tevez, Toure and Nasri are standing over the ball...
City are looking to respond quickly here and have regained their earlier monopoly of the ball, but the visitors are looking defiant in defence once more. Another change for Adkins' side now, as Steven Davis comes on for youngster Ward-Prowse.
Yellow Card Daniel Fox
Dzeko does well to keep the ball in play. Silva combines with Rodwell but the debutant is dispossessed on the edge of the area and Southampton survive. City come again and Toure crosses but Puncheon clears.
Goal Rickie Lambert
Barely two minutes into his Premier League career, and Saints' star striker has levelled the match! Ward-Prowse tried to poke through to Do Prado, Lescott blocked it out to Lambert, who shifted the ball and placed a superb shot past Joe Hart into the bottom left-hand corner. It's been all Manchester City this half, but it's all square at the Etihad!
GOAL!! Lambert has equalised!!
A rare foray into City's half sees Lallana find space in the box only for Silva to deny him room for a shot. City can break and Toure plays in Tevez, but the Argentine seems to scuff his effort and it's a goal-kick to Southampton.
Chance - off the bar! Tevez bursts forwards down the right and crosses. Davis parries the ball out to Nasri, who touches it across to Silva, but the Spaniard can only rattle the frame of the goal.
What a chance for Clichy! Toure clips a delightful ball over the top of the defence for the on-rushing full-back, but he can't control his shot and he sidefoots over the bar from point-blank range at the near post. City beginning to turn the screw here.
Chance - missed! Nasri does brilliantly to get beyond Clyne and Puncheon down the byline, he crosses for Dzeko who is unmarked three yards out, but the Bosnian scuffs his control skywards and Davis collects. Great chance for City!
No changes for either side at half time, so Saints fans will need to wait for RIcky Lambert's first taste of Premier League football. Clyne comes forward for the visitors but the ball runs out of play.
We're underway here for the second half...
Second half will be underway shortly, folks - so what are your predictions? Will City go on to get another two or three or can the Saints spark a fightback? What changes will either side make? Send your thoughts on Twitter to our LIVE! blog, and stay tuned with me for the next 45 minutes!
Nigel Atkins would have been happy with his side's display until that goal on 40 minutes, although he will need to look at getting more support to Do Prado up top and plugging the whole down the left which has so often been exploited by Zabaleta & Co. For City, they may have taken time to warm up, but their dominance towards the end of the half suggests they will coast to victory here if the pattern of play stays the same. Join me for the second half shortly!
45' + 4'
Puncheon lobs forward for Lallana but Hart claims, and that brings the half to a close. It took 40 minutes for City to overcome a dogged Southampton, but they took a deserved lead in fortuitous circumstances as a tight offside call went Tevez's way and he tucked home the opening goal. City looked tepid early on after Silva's penalty miss and Aguero's injury, but they go in to half time in control of this one.
45' + 3'
Southampton are on the ropes here. First Dzeko was blocked in the area, then Davis makes a great one-handed save from Tevez before Rodwell's effort is deflected over the bar. City have finally come to life here.
45' + 1'
Four minutes of time to be added here, owing to Aguero's earlier injury.
City have come to life now and Zabaleta almost gets in once again down the Southampton left, but Nasri's pass is overhit. Schneiderlin then concedes possession and Silva finds Dzeko but he shoots straight at Davis.
Saints are furious that no flag was raised against Tevez. Replays show that the call was a very tight one, but Clyne may perhaps have played the striker onside from the other side of the pitch.
Assist Samir Nasri
Goal Carlos Tévez
GOAL!!!! Carlos Tevez scores for City!! Silva is denied space in the area and Southampton clear, but a route-one ball from Nasri finds Tevez who side-foots beyond Davis at the near post.
Lallana's delivery is fizzed in but Nasri gets his head to it and it goes behind for a corner. Lescott heads the following delivery against Rodriguez and City have a goal-kick. The ball is worked to Tevez on the right but more good defending stops the attack.
Clyne bursts forward but loses the ball and City work the space in behind well, but Tevez's final through-ball to SIlva is intercepted. At the other end, Zabaleta blocks Lallana's cross with his arm and Saints have a free-kick in a good position on the left.
Half a chance for Tevez as Toure's long ball drops at the Argentine's feet 20 yards from goal. He does well to turn into space but his right-footed shot is scuffed straight down the middle and Davis claims comfortably. Zabaleta then gets forward and cuts back for Silva, but Fonte tackles well inside the area and Saints clear their lines.
It's been a pretty tame half-hour thus far at the Etihad. Davis' penalty save was the only real chance so far, and the crowd have been quietened by the rather tepid display from the champions so far. Cliche wins a corner off Fonte but Nasri's cross is too deep, and City start the attack again.
Southampton concede possession and Tevez whips the ball in, but the ball is flicked away from the head of Dzeko by Fonte.
Tevez loses out to Clyne but Cliche wins the ball back from Puncheon. Zabaleta launches one forward for Dzeko but the ball runs safely through to Davis.
The Saints are beginning to sit deeper and deeper as City crank up the pressure. Dzeko and Silva combine well on the edge of the area but the Spaniard is muscled out of it and the visitors enjoy their own spell of possession.
Zabaleta is found by Tevez but Rodriguez blocks his cross and the ball bobbles back to Davis. City have it back now with Yaya Toure in their own half...
City are beginning to boss possession now, but the Saints have been buoyed by that penalty save and are not allowing the hosts any time on the ball. Do Prado wins it back but instantly gives it away to Silva, only for the hosts to lose the ball back again.
Just as the home crowd looked to be finding their voice, they have been stunned in to silence by that lazy spot-kick from Silva, who was standing in for Aguero from 12 yards. Tevez tries to make space for a shot but runs out of room and his pass to Zabaleta drifts out of play.
Missed Penalty David Silva
Penalty save Kelvin Davis
SAVED! Silva's penalty is poor and Davis saves comfortably!
PENALTY GIVEN! Patient play from City in the Southampton half, Nasri flicks through for Tevez who goes down under Hooivelt's challenge as he tries to turn. Definite foul.
Jay Rodriguez has looked tenacious down the left flank, and is refusing to allow Zabaleta any time on the ball. On this occassion, however, his cross is too deep and sails out of play, allowing City to bring on Edin Dzeko to replace Aguero.
Half a chance for Schneiderlin as his 20-yard drive bobbles wide of the goal. Joleon Lescott looked a little fortunate to escape punishment for a hard tackle moments before. Meanwhile, Aguero has indeed now disappeared down the tunnel - that's a big blow for City early on here.
Just as I say that, Ageuro is on his feet and walks - albeit gingerly - from the pitch for further treatment. The game is back underway.
Replays show that Clyne won the ball cleanly, but Aguero's leg seemed to become trapped between the legs of the Southampton player after the ball was played. The stretcher is on, and the striker's afternoon looks to have come to a close.
Clyne tackles Aguero cleanly on the stretch but the Argentine has stayed down clutching his right leg. Looks as though it could be his knee which has been hurt.
Cliche and Aguero combine well down the left but the Frenchman's cross is headed clear. Silva is then caught in possession and Do Prado wins a free-kick inside the City half.
Southampton look undaunted by the prospect of facing the champions today. New-signing Nathaniel Clyne looks bright down the visitor's right-hand side.
...but the short corner comes to nothing as referee Howard Webb gets in the way of Guly Do Prado. A patient start to proceedings in Manchester so far.
Adam Lallana wins a corner from Jack Rodwell...
And the champions get us underway!
Kick-off is imminent here at the Etihad, as the champions look to get their title defence off on the right track after Chelsea's earlier victory. May 13th was the last time Premier League football was played here - if today's match is anything like that fateful day, we could be in for a cracker!
Don't forget to follow our LIVE! blog this afternoon for additional updates from the Premier League and beyond. And of course, you can get in touch via Twitter too - lots of you have already got involved, and there are plenty of you backing a City whitewash this afternoon. Well, the players are in the tunnel, so the wait is almost over!
There's no denying that City are the clear favourites for three points today, but Roberto Mancini would do well to avoid underestimating a Southampton side who, in many ways, approach today's game with nothing to lose. Mancini has been vocal of his criticism of the club's inability to sign players before the start of the season, but Rodwell - his one significant piece of summer business - has been handed a start today; it'll be interesting to see how he fares...
The Saints, meanwhile, leave last season's top scorer Ricky Lambert on the bench, and hand a start to 17-year-old James Ward-Prowse in midfield - a daunting place to make your Premier League debut! Southampton: Davis, Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox, Ward-Prowse, Schneiderlin, Lallana, Puncheon, Guly, Rodriguez. Subs: Gazzaniga, Lambert, S. Davis, Sharp, Richardson, Shaw, Seaborne.
City hand a start to new-signing Jack Rodwell, who steps into an otherwise-recognisable starting XI: Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Y Toure, Rodwell, Silva, Nasri, Tevez, Aguero Subs: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Savic, De Jong, Milner, Balotelli, Dzeko.
Afternoon one and all and welcome to Day Two of the new Premier League season! I'm Joe Wright and I'll be taking you through this afternoon's affair at the Etihad Stadium as champions Manchester City welcome Southampton back to the top flight. Full team news on the way!
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