Kevin de Bruyne pulled the strings as Manchester City got back to winning ways and went top of the league with a 3-1 victory over Southampton, with Fabian Delph, Aleksandar Kolarov and De Bruyne himself on the score-sheet.
Intent to make amends for last weekend’s home humiliation at the hands of Liverpool, City exploded out of the blocks and opened Southampton up time and again in a superb start to the game.
The opening goal when it came was courtesy of a Maya Yoshida error, with the right-back giving the ball away to Raheem Sterling, allowing the winger a clean run into the box. Sterling did the rest, drawing in the centre-backs and teeing up De Bruyne for a close-range finish.
Delph made it 2-0 a little over ten minutes later, drilling a shot from outside the box after being teed up by De Bruyne and finding the back of the net thanks to a big deflection off Virgil van Dijk.
Van Dijk almost made amends in spectacular fashion moments later, crashing a thunderbolt of a shot off the crossbar, but that was the closest that the Saints came in a disappointing first half.
It could have been worse for the visitors, who had Maarten Stekelenburg to thank for a couple of terrific saves to deny first Kolarov and then Sergio Aguero, while Steven Davis got away with a handball on the line in the build-up to Delph’s goal which could easily have result in a red card for the Northern Ireland international midfielder.
Southampton were much-improved in the second half and pulled one back when Shane Long’s towering header made the most of Mane’s excellent cross, but a double save at a crucial moment by stand-in keeper Willy Caballero protected City’s lead.
Kolarov secured the win for City when he finished off a flowing passing move by drilling in a shot across the keeper – assisted again by De Bruyne – and even though Southampton pushed hard for a late comeback the best of the remaining chances fell to the home side.
The Saints can chalk this one off as a lesson learned, while for City it is a welcome return to winning ways at the end of a tricky week.