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City v Southampton: Defining games

Crucial goals, thrilling encounters and even a fond farewell – City’s history with Sunday’s opponents has had it all.

From the 1967-68 title season through to the final game at Maine Road and beyond, every supporter is sure to have a different set of memories of past clashes with Southampton. 

We've narrowed it down to just five games that have helped to shape history in Manchester - and on the South Coast. Take a trip down memory lane with words and video of some of the best moments from down the decades....


Second half stunner – 1991

The half time analysis on the March 1991 meeting between City and Southampton might not have taken much longer than a few minutes with no goals at all for supporters to dissect. 

However, anyone gambling on more of the same in the second period would have cause to swiftly tear up their betting slip. Southampton didn’t take long to open the scoring before Clive Allen cut short their celebrations and City then seized the initiative with a well-executed David White free kick that swept underneath the defensive wall. 

In a topsy-turvy, rollercoaster ride of a second half it was the Saints who had the net bulging next but City fans thought they had survived with all three points intact when Mark Brennan stroked the ball home from close range. However, this Blues team weren’t finished putting their fans through the wringer and Southampton snatched an unlikely draw late on. 

A thriller to be savoured - even if those wearing blue felt a little short-changed to emerge without the full complement of points!

Kinkladze’s cracker - 1996

To supporters of a certain vintage, the marauding figure of Georgi Kinkladze was an essential staple of the Maine Road diet.

A cult hero who scooped the Player of the Year award in successive seasons in the mid-1990s, the Georgia international wowed crowds with individual brilliance as part of a City team striving to avoid relegation.  

Southampton were far from alone in falling victim to the bewitching Kinkladze, but arguably were on the wrong side of his finest moment. The forward had already scored a tap-in earlier in this 1996 meeting when he picked the ball up 30 yards from goal, shimmied and twisted round four Saints defenders left in a series of knots and finished with aplomb past the hapless Dave Beasant. 

It was the crowning diamond in a jewelled masterclass from Kinkladze who refused to let the exhausted defenders have a moment’s repose. Somehow it only came second in Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season poll, but that on electrifying moment remains carved in the memories of the 29,000 lucky enough to witness it live – the pinnacle of the season and the pick of Kinkladze’s lengthy showreel.

Farewell Maine Road – 2003

Tears were never far from the surface as fans made the pilgrimage to Maine Road for the final time in 2003, and prepared to bid farewell to the place City had called home for 80 years. 

The pre and post-match festivities dominated the script on an emotionally-charged occasion that left even the hardened supporters reaching for a hanky – or a piece of turf to take home as a memento! 

Unfortunately, Southampton as the visiting fans appeared not to have read the instructions on their invitation and denied players and supporters the goal they desperately craved to accompany the party poppers. 

Keeper Paul Jones was at his best to deny first Marc-Vivien Foe and then twice producing athletic stops to prevent Nicolas Anelka from writing his name in this history books. 

Then, in true ‘Typical City’ style, Michael Svensson popped up to revel in the role of party pooper. The Saints kept City’s attack at bay as the final curtain came down on eight decades of rich, varied history in this little corner of Manchester. 

Shaun Goater, captain for the day, also waved a fond farewell to the supporters whose hearts he has thoroughly captured on a day remembered for everything but the 90 minutes of football.

Title defence commences – 2012

The previous game to the Etihad Stadium had left many fans emotionally drained after watching Roberto Mancini’s men lift a first title in 44 years in the most dramatic style Hollywood could possibly have dreamed up. 

Fast forward to August and it was time for players, fans and turf to meet again as newly-promoted Southampton made to the trip to Manchester. 

While the emotional Richter scale wasn’t disturbed to the same degree, City are not used to the straightforward path. In the first 25 minutes, the Champions lost Sergio Aguero and missed a penalty as a European Championship summer took its toll on any thoughts of a frenetic opening pace. 

However, where flair was initially missing steel showed. Once Rickie Lambert had cancelled out Tevez’s opener and Steve Davis had gone one better, City bared their collective teeth and displayed a relish for overcoming a setback. Edin Dzeko tucked home the equaliser before Samir Nasri marked his Man of the Match display with an 80th minute winner. 

The new campaign was off and running.

Title charge – 2014

As Grand National Day 2014 dawned, City showed no sign of being the first to fall as the title race entered its final furlong. 

A game behind Liverpool after the previous month’s Capital One Cup exertions, the Blues bolted out of the starting gates and were ahead via the calm boot of Yaya Toure from the penalty spot within three minutes. Rickie Lambert’s technique may be different, but the outcome of his spot kick proved identical before City once more pulled out in front in first half stoppage time with a pair of strikes from Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri. 

However, the Saints refused to let go of City’s coat tails, and Lambert was only a few inches away from a second goal and sending a few rear ends twitching in the home end. Fortunately for those of a nervous disposition, Stevan Jovetic popped up with a fourth to ensure there would be no photo finish required. 

The perfect preparation for Anfield the following week? Perhaps not, but a result that would prove vital in the final reckoning…

The Last Time - 2014

Need another boost ahead of Sunday? The two sides last faced off last November, with City heading to St Mary's ahead of a must-win game, but needing to break through a Southampton back line with the second best record in the league. 

Manuel Pellegrini's men more than rose to the occasion...

What happens on Sunday? What are your memories of past encounters with the Saints? Let us know on twitter

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