Pep Guardiola hailed Manchester City’s narrow 1-0 win at Southampton as an “incredibly important victory” as they returned to winning ways at St Mary’s.
Raheem Sterling turned home a Kevin De Bruyne cross to give City an early lead and they were able to hold on to secure all three points after back-to-back Premier League draws.
Guardiola’s men looked resolute at the back throughout, although they have yet to hit their stride going forward and have amassed just 19 goals from their first 13 Premier League games this season, but the manager was proud of his side’s performance.
“They were brilliant, nothing to say, because we know exactly which team we faced tonight, how good they are, strong, the build up with the four is so so good and after they put in a lot of players to run in behind,” Guardiola said about Southampton.
“We had a fantastic team, an incredibly very important victory for us, to climb some positions in the table, for our mood and our momentum isn’t as good up front.
“Sometimes we could not control the game, they were able to – they had enough chances in the second half to score more goals with our momentum but our back four were brilliant with Rodrigo and (Ilkay) Gundogan as well.
“So this is a good victory for us.”
Southampton went into the game third in the table having suffered just one defeat in their previous 11 games and started brightly but were unable to convert their possession and dominance during periods of the first half into clear-cut chances.
Their task was made more difficult after Danny Ings, who has seven goals to his name this season, was forced off just before the break.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is certain Ings was suffering from a hamstring problem.
Hasenhuttl said: “I can’t say now, I think it’s a hamstring problem. He stepped off hopefully early enough.
“I spoke to him before the game and took the risk of letting him play again from the beginning after a long injury.
“I was thinking of leaving him out today. If it hadn’t been Man City I would have done it I think. But now you do it and you get billed for it. This is hopefully not too bad.”
The German said, despite the defeat, he thought his side performed better than in their 1-0 win against City on July 5.
“I thought we played better than last summer but this time they scored and we didn’t,” the Saints boss said.
“So for this I think I can say unbelievable from my team today and I think we underlined why we are top four before this game.
“It was a top game in my opinion, a top Premier League game, tactically a very high level, footballing. It’s hard to defend (against) such a team but we did it in an awesome way, the only thing that we missed in our game today were a few goals.
“We had chances for a few but they also had chances for a few more. So a fantastic game, it was amazing to watch from outside but it’s always interesting to play against them and I think we both enjoyed this game massively.”
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