Erling Haaland took his Premier League goal tally to 30 goals and Kevin De Bruyne became the quickest player to 100 assists in Premier League history as City beat Southampton 4-1 at St Mary’s.

The pair combined for the 45th-minute opener to finally prize open the battling Saints, who were fighting for their survival against relegation.

Jack Grealish extended City’s lead in the second half before setting up Haaland for a spectacular third as he became the first City player to reach 30 league goals in a season for the Club since Francis Lee in 1971/72.

Sekou Mara pulled a goal back for the Saints before Julian Alvarez added a fourth from the penalty spot after De Bruyne was brought down as we closed the gap on Arsenal to five points ahead of their game with Liverpool on Sunday.

What happened

Haaland returned to the starting line-up as the only change from the team that beat Liverpool 4-1 last weekend.

Despite being bottom of the table, Guardiola predicted a difficult game against a side fighting for their Premier League lives.

Ruben Selles, the third Saints coach that we have faced this season, tried to get his side to force City to play deep in their own half in the early stages as we dominated possession.

We found a way through inside five minutes with a sweeping move, as we moved the ball quickly from front to back, that ended with Gundogan feeding the ball to Grealish, but his low shot was batted away by Gavin Bazunu and just beyond the onrushing De Bruyne.

Gundogan had an attempt on goal himself with a well-struck volley from the edge of the box that was deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Kamaldeen Sulemana pounced on a loose pass but as he raced clear, Nathan Ake was able to steer him wide of goal and Ederson dived at his feet.

Former EDS player Romeo Lavia was impressive in midfield for the home side and his quick feet on the edge of the box created another opening for Sulemana but his cross drifted wide.

Southampton were working hard to make it difficult to create chances and it took until the 40th minute for Haaland to get his first real sight of goal with a far-post header from De Bruyne’s deflected cross that was just off-target.

But he made no mistake on the stroke of half-time when De Bruyne curled in a perfect cross that Haaland headed in from six yards out.

WATCH: Highlights: Saints 1-4 City

City pushed forward for a second after the break and Gundogan went close in the 50th minute with a curling effort that drifted beyond the far post.

The wait was soon over when a quick move involving Haaland and De Bruyne who released Grealish. His left foot strike was kept out by Bazunu but the ball came straight back to the winger who made no mistake with the outside of his right foot.

The rebound meant that De Bruyne was denied another assist and he was unlucky not to create another when his pass carved open the Saints defence for Bernardo but he was kept out by Bazunu.

A third soon followed with an astonishing volley from Haaland to spectacularly convert Grealish’s cross and the Norwegian was immediately replaced by Julian Alvarez.

Substitute Mara fired in a low finish after good work from winger Moussa Djenepo to pull a goal back.

However, City re-stablished their three-goal lead when Alvarez scored a penalty after De Bruyne was brought down by Kyle Walker-Peters.


SOUTHAMPTON XI: Bazunu, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Bella-Kotchap, Maitland-Niles, Alcaraz (Djenepo 69), Ward-Prowse, Lavia (Diallo 80), Elyounoussi (Armstrong 61), Walcott (Perraud 80), Sulemana (Mara 69).

Subs: McCarthy, Caleta-Car, Onuachu, Edozie,.

CITY XI: EdersonStones (Walker 56), Akanji, Dias, Ake (Gomez 81), Rodrigo (Phillips 81), De BruyneGundogan (c), Mahrez (Bernardo 56), Grealish, Haaland (Alvarez 69).

Subs: Ortega Moreno, LaportePalmer, Lewis.

Man of the match

De Bruyne confirmed what many City fans have thought for a long time, that he is the greatest goal-creator in Premier League history.

The Belgian became the quickest to 100 assists with his pinpoint cross picked out Haaland to send him into the record books.

But while it was a landmark moment, it could yet prove crucial in this season’s title race as Southampton were proving difficult to break down.

He could have had even more – chalking off his contribution to Grealish’s goal seems unfair – and Bernardo was denied late on.

De Bruyne has 14 assists for the season, four more than anyone else, and could even threaten his own record of 20 assists in a campaign shared with Thierry Henry.

Super Jack

While Guardiola has been full of praise for Grealish’s contribution since he joined from Aston Villa, the winger has wanted to improve his statistics.

The England international is now only behind Haaland for Premier League goal contributions since the World Cup with 10 - four behind the striker.

Grealish has now scored in consecutive games for the first time in a City shirt with his strike all-but killing off any hope of a comeback from the Saints.

It was a nervous wait as he waited for the VAR to check for offside, but Grealish was the right side of the line to make another vital contribution.

And he claimed another assist although it was slightly overshadowed by Haaland’s outrageous volley.


Pep Guardiola reaction

“I would not say we were bad [in the first half] but I give a lot of credit to Southampton, their game plan was brilliant. 

“Erling is here for these types of games. He has a big heart and he was on the end of the assist from Kevin. His ability is incredible.

“We adjust something in the first half and started the second really well and started much better.

“If it was 0-0 it would’ve been completely different. But, our game second half was much better.”

Kevin De Bruyne reaction

“I just tried to create as much as possible. I could have had two or three more. If they score I get the assist.

“I am known for my creativity, there aren’t many football players who have been there. Half of the side is mine and half of the side is the other.

“It is a proud moment but I have to go on.”


What it means

Victory extends our winning streak to eight in all competitions and five in the Premier League.

With nine matches remaining, we cut the gap on leaders Arsenal to five points with the Gunners facing Liverpool on Sunday.

What’s next

The big games keep coming with our Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich on Tuesday at 20:00 (UK) at the Etihad Stadium.

Our next game in the Premier League is also at home when we face another side fighting for survival with Leicester City the visitors on Saturday 15 April at 17:30.

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