A 52,698-strong crowd watched Manchester City play out a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium after Southampton were dramatically denied a second-half penalty and Raheem Sterling saw a potential late winner narrowly chalked off for offside.
City boss Pep Guardiola urged more supporters to attend Saturday’s Premier League encounter after 38,000 watched the midweek win over RB Leipzig, and the attendance was back to near-capacity levels – as it was against Norwich (51,437) and Arsenal (52,276) – as the hosts were left frustrated by a resilient Southampton side.
The Saints thought they had a chance to break the deadlock after half-time, but after awarding the visitors a penalty and showing Kyle Walker a red card for making contact with Adam Armstrong, referee Jonathan Moss overturned both decisions when consulting the pitchside monitor.
It was a big reprieve for City, but the champions could not find the breakthrough, and after VAR denied Raheem Sterling a late winner for offside, the points were shared as City ended the match with just the one shot on target.
Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (6), Dias (6), Ake (7), Cancelo (7), Fernandinho (6), Gundogan (5), Bernardo (5), Grealish (6), Jesus (5), Sterling (6).
Subs: De Bruyne (6), Mahrez (6), Foden (6).
Southampton: McCarthy (7), Livramento (7), Stephens (6), Bednarek (8), Walker-Peters (7), Romeu (7), Redmond (6), Ward-Prowse (7), Elyounoussi (6), Adams (6), Armstrong (6).
Subs: Salisu (7), Broja (6), Perraud (N/A)
Man of the Match: Jan Bednarek.
How Moss’ big call denied Saints
The biggest talking point of the match arrived just after the hour-mark, with Moss initially awarding Southampton a penalty when Walker rushed back to deny Armstrong a shooting opportunity.
Clinton Morrison had called the incident a « stonewall » penalty on Soccer Saturday after Walker stepped across Armstrong, while Moss even showed the City defender a red card.
However, after Walker and City’s players protested the decision, Moss watched it back on the monitor and ended up reversing both the penalty and red card.
City made five changes from the Champions League win over RB Leipzig in midweek, with Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan, Kyle Walker and Fernandinho all starting.
Southampton’s three changes from the 0-0 draw with West Ham saw Jan Bednarek, Kyle Walker-Peters and Che Adams replace Moussa Djenepo, Romain Perraud and Mohammed Salisu.
To the home fans’ delight, Kevin De Bruyne came on moments after the contentious call, but despite Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez also joining the Belgian off the bench, they were unable to break the deadlock.
Sterling did bundle the ball in late on, but after he thought he had scored when following up on Foden’s well-saved header, the offside flag and subsequent VAR check ensured the Saints earned a deserved point.
Clear and obvious error? Hasenhuttl questions Moss
Per Premier League rules, VAR can be used to overturn a subjective decision if a « clear and obvious error » has been identified.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl pointed this out when questioning Moss’ decision to overturn the penalty and red card – suggesting it was not « clear and obvious » enough for the referee to change his mind.
« We had the feeling it was not a clear wrong decision but when the referee has this feeling it is a clear wrong decision, he has to overrule it. We accept it, » Hasenhuttl said.
« You need such luck to get a penalty. When you hear the crowd starting to boo you know you’re doing something right.
« We can be proud of what we have shown today. It was a more than deserved point for us. »
- Manchester City directed just one shot on target in the whole game (via Phil Foden in the 90th minute, their lowest tally in a Premier League game since March 8, 2017 when they also managed just one, against Stoke City.
- Southampton are now winless in their last seven Premier League games (D4 L3), drawing each of the last four in a row, the first time they have strung together four top-flight draws since March 2002.
- Manchester City drew for the first time in 31 Premier League games (W25 L5), since a 1-1 encounter with West Brom at the Etihad in December 2020.
- Southampton secured only their second point in their last 11 Premier League visits to Manchester City (D2) and registered their first clean away to the Citizens in the division since a 1-0 win in May 2003.
- Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse made his 100th consecutive appearance in the Premier League, only the ninth outfield player to register such a run (Frank Lampard top with 164).
- Raheem Sterling became the ninth player to hit 200 Premier League appearances for Manchester City, and only the second Englishman to do so, after Joe Hart (266).
Manchester City welcome Wycombe to the Etihad in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, and then travel to Chelsea in the Premier League for a lunchtime kick-off next Saturday.
Meanwhile, Southampton head to Sheffield United for their Carabao Cup tie on Tuesday, and then host Wolves next Sunday live on Sky Sports Premier League – kick-off 2pm.