Saints came away from Manchester with zero points, but plenty of pride, following a brave display. The visitors matched the Premier League champions for much of the game, but were eventually undone by a bit of extra class
Nigel Adkins made a few minor tweaks to the line-up. James Ward-Prowse played slightly deeper than he had done for most of pre-season, sitting alongside Morgan Schneiderlin just in front of the defence. Adam Lallana started through the middle, but drifted towards the left throughout. Adkins also went with Guly up front ahead of Rickie Lambert and Billy Sharp. Guly's defensive qualities and movement made him an ideal choice for this particular fixture.
Saints showed little fear in the early going, but for all the possession, clear cut chances were limited. The visitors had used the right flank so effectively during pre-season, but on this occasion Saints utilized the opposite side of the pitch with greater regularity, with Lallana linking up well with Jay Rodrgiuez. Joe Hart was barely troubled early on, with Adkins' men managing just a few long range efforts.
City grew stronger as the half wore on, but Saints did well to limit them to only a handful of real openings. Every time the home side broke forward, Saints got men back and crowded out City's most dangerous players. The Premier League champions had a chance to open the scoring on 15 minutes when Jos Hooiveld clipped Carlos Tevez in the penalty area, only for David Silva to roll a weak penalty straight into the path of Kelvin Davis.
Saints defended very well, but never looked capable of threatening at the other end. Tevez looked the most dangerous player for City, so it was no surprise when the Argentinian opened the scoring. He picked up Samir Nasri's neat little dink, before firing into the near post past Davis. Tevez may have been just offside, but the goal was given. City ended the half strong and would have gone further ahead were it not for some heroic defending.
City continued where they left off early into the second half, and should have gone further ahead. Edin Dzeko, Gael Clichy and David Silva all missed fantastic chances to put the game out of sight. Saints weathered the storm, before making a change that would affect the rest of the game. Rickie Lambert replaced Jay Rodriguez, and the away side started to show a lot more ambition going forward. They were rewarded with a goal on 59 minutes. Lallana, Ward-Prowse and Guly worked the ball to the edge of the penalty area, before Lambert smashed into the corner of the net, giving Joe Hart no chance.
Things got even better on 67 minutes. Adam Lallana broke down the left, following a City corner, before playing in substitute Steven Davis. It looked as though the move was about to break down before a Jack Rodwell mistake allowed Davis to capitalise and hammer the ball home to stun the 46,409 crowd. Saints fans were in dreamland, and celebrated the goal by mocking City's Poznan celebration. Even in the wild jubilation, most of the travelling fans probably didn't allow themselves to believe that we might actually nick something, especially with last season's QPR game fresh in the memory. It was still an incredible moment however.
City bombarded the Saints goal after that, and really came to life in the final 20 minutes. On 72 City equalised through Edin Dzeko, when Saints failed to clear a corner. Adkins' men still harboured hopes of a win, with Jason Pucnheon running through on goal, only to lose his footing right at the last moment. City then immediately countered, with Yay Toure making a marauding run through the middle. Mario Balotelli couldn't take advantage of the subsequent pass, firing into the side netting. The home side did eventually get their winner of 80 minutes when Samir Nasri blasted in from the edge of the area. Saints huffed and puffed in the final minutes, but couldn't quite find the break through. Jose Fonte missed a good chance, firing over from close range.
A very encouraging display. Saints showed no fear against the best side of the country and matched them for much of the match. On the balance of play City probably did deserve it, but that should take nothing away from the excellent effort of all 14 players in red. Saints stuck to a game plan excellently and were tactically superb. Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld defended heroically, while the likes of Adam Lallana and Guly Do Prado created chances at the other end with some sublime movement. Adkins got it spot on, with all three substitutes making a big impact. Saints could do with a bit more depth in certain areas, but the side that took City to the limit is more than capable of causing most Premier League teams problems