Belfast Telegraph

Southampton benefit as Man City's gamble backfires

Southampton 4 - Man City 2

By Nick Purewal

Manuel Pellegrini insisted he would gamble Manchester City's Premier League top-four finish all over again to prioritise the Champions League, even after the comprehensive 4-2 defeat at Southampton.

City were undone by Sadio Mane's hat-trick in a line-up showing eight changes from Tuesday's goalless draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg.

Pellegrini insisted he would do "exactly the same again" in terms of his vast rotation, despite accepting the defeat could impact Wednesday's return leg in Madrid - and dent City's chances of securing a top-four league finish.

City's hefty defeat leaves that fourth-place Premier League finish in the balance, with Arsenal and Swansea still to play.

"I would do exactly the same again because we have an important game on Wednesday to play for the Champions League final," said Pellegrini.

"We continue in the Premier League in the next two games to be in the top four so that was a risk, but one we also had to take.

"I was very disappointed, especially in the defending.

"We knew before the game it was a risk but we have to take those risks because we have an important game on Wednesday.

"Maybe if we had played on Saturday we could have put more players in.

"I always say the best way to prepare for the next game is to win and that's why we did so well before Paris St Germain."

Pellegrini expects Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne all to be ready for the Madrid trip on Wednesday, with all three not involved at St Mary's.

Saints boss Koeman insisted Southampton in yesterday's mood could have produced the same result against City's strongest starting line-up.

"Even if City had started with their best team we had possibilities to win, because we were at our best this afternoon," he said.

Southampton: Forster, Martina, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand, Wanyama, Clasie (Romeu 59), Mane, Davis (Ward-Prowse 73), Tadic (Rodriguez 87), Long.

Booked: Clasie, Tadic.

Goals: Long 25, Mane 28, 57, 68.

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Mangala, Kolarov, Nasri, Fernandinho (Demichelis 60), Delph (Jesus Navas 64), Sterling, Iheanacho, Bony.

Booked: Fernandinho.

Goals: Iheanacho 44,78.

Attendance: 31,472

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands).



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