24/05/2015: Man City 2-0 Saints
Saints closed out 2014/15 with a 2-0 defeat at Man City. Ronald Koeman's men put in a reasonable showing, but a lack of cutting edge in the final third told in the end. Saints finished the campaign in 7th place; their highest ever finish in the Premier League era.
Saints were poor going forward in the first-half. City only turned it on when they needed too, but often caught out the visitors on the counter. Saints saw a fair amount of the ball during a dull first 15, without really doing anything with it. Neither team made much headway in the final third, with the majority of the action taking place in midfield.
On 20 Shane Long had Saints' first major chance, breaking through down the left before shooting low straight at Joe Hart. Sergio Aguero looked to be in for an even easier chance seconds later, but his scuffed shot went wide of the near post. On 24 Kelvin Davis spilled Yaya Toure's effort, but made amends by saving well from Aguero's follow-up.
City turned up the intensity midway through the half and took the lead on 31. Frank Lampard - featuring in his final City game - finished James Milner's low cross. Aguero was played through on goal almost immediately after that goal, but was stopped by Davis once again. The Saints keeper - making his 300th appearance for the club - made another fine stop later in the half after Toure had made a marauding run through the middle. At the other end, Saints did have a few half chances, but most of the attacking play was too slow and predictable. Graziano Pelle hooked the ball wide just before half-time following some patient build-up.
Saints looked sharper offensively in the second-half. Very early on Pelle flicked the ball over after Sadio Mane had got beyond Pablo Zabaleta down the left. Saints played some intricate stuff in City's half, but kept falling for the offside trap. Pelle was flagged several times after he looked to be in with a clear sight at goal.
On 67 Long aimed to catch Hart out low at the far post, but the England keeper got down quick enough. Five minutes later Mane couldn't get enough power on his header from Ryan Bertrand's cross. Long tested Hart again on 73 following a swift counter. A few moments later Aguero fired over from a rare City break.
City brought on Vincent Kompany on 79 to shore things up. Saints ran out of steam during the final 10, with City comfortably seeing the game out. The home side wrapped up the points on 88 when Aguero nodded in from close range after Eliaquim Mangala had headed across goal. Saints had one final chance in stoppage time, with Long shooting well wide at the back post from James Ward-Prowse's cross.
Another slightly underwhelming away performance. Saints did play ok in the second-half, but Man City weren't exactly at their best so you could easily argue it was another missed opportunity. Saints could and maybe should have finished even higher than they did, but overall it's difficult to complain too much about how the season panned out. European football would be a fitting reward for the team's efforts, but we still have to keep our fingers crossed that Arsenal do the business in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
K Davis: 7. Kept Saints in the game in the first half with a string of smart saves
Clyne: 7. Put in a few decent crosses and defended reasonably well
Fonte: 6. Hesitation on the ball led to a few relatively minor errors in the first half. Not troubled too much in the second
Alderweireld: 7. Looked good bringing the ball out from the back. Also made some good challenges
Bertrand: 6. Made some good runs out from the back, but delivery not great
Wanyama: 7. Made some big challenges in the centre of the park
S Davis: 5. A bit of a nothing showing
Djuricic: 5. Some decent bits of skill in the middle of the park, but no final ball
Long: 6. Took up some decent positons, but finishing touch deserted him
Mane: 6. Far too deep to cause City problems in the first half. Used his skill to decent effect in the second
Pelle: 5. Couldn't get into the game in the first-half. A bit better after the break, but struggled to beat the offside trap
Ward-Prowse: 6. Created a few chances
Elia: Involved in a few attacking moves late on
Man City - Lampard (31) Aguero (88)
Attendance - 45,919 (2,788 Saints fans)
Referee - Chris Foy
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure (Bony 66), Lampard (Navas 77), Milner (Kompany 79), Silva, Aguero
Subs not used: Caballero, Sagna, Jovetic, Dzeko
Saints: K Davis, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Wanyama, S Davis (Elia 76), Djuricic (Ward-Prowse 59) Long, Mane, Pelle
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Gardos, Yoshida, Targett, Reed