Men's Team

Morgan hails key Mahrez trait

Esme Morgan says there is nobody better than Riyad Mahrez when it comes to cutting inside from wide areas.

The Algerian has established himself as one of the most dangerous wingers in Europe during his time at Manchester City, with his ability to drift in off the right flank to create or convert chances a key component of Pep Guardiola’s side’s attacking arsenal.

That was the case as City overcame Southampton to reach the FA Cup semi-finals, with Mahrez arriving in the box to whip his 22nd goal of the season into the bottom right corner.

Morgan, who grew up supporting City, believes the 31-year-old must strike fear into opposition defenders, with his mesmerising skills and the ability to beat full-backs inside and out.

“I don’t think there is anyone else in world football that you probably want cutting in off that right-hand side, in that half space in the area, than Mahrez,” she said on Matchday Live.

“Every time he gets the ball in that position and the defender squares up to him, they know he probably wants it on his left, but at the same time there has been many occasions when he has chopped back on to his right and finished that way.

“A defender in that position has the fear of god in them because they don’t know what he is going to do.

“As a City fan watching him, I have so much confidence that he is going to shift it, get half a yard of space and finish. That’s what he did so well [against Southampton].”

Mahrez’s goal wrapped up a comfortable 4-1 victory for City, but Guardiola’s men were made to work hard for the result at St Mary’s.

Southampton more than matched the visitors in the first half, but Kevin De Bruyne’s penalty following a foul on Gabriel Jesus swung the tie in City’s favour.

That pivotal moment was sandwiched between two excellent saves from Zack Steffen, who was at full stretch to deny James Ward-Prowse when the scores were level and made a brilliant block from Che Adams to preserve City’s lead after De Bruyne had struck.

And, Morgan felt the American’s efforts were instrumental in helping Guardiola’s side gain the ascendancy.

“At the time you sort of felt it might be the moment the tide shifted in our favour a little bit because it was a really important save,” she added when asked about Steffen's stop from Ward-Prowse.

“I think he is probably going to be disappointed in the goal we concede in the first half, but he stepped up really well in that big moment and that gave us the stepping stone, once we got the penalty, to shift the tide in our favour a little bit more.”