What an absolutely engrossing match. City showing the fortitude and strength to dig deep to come back to equalize and then score the winner gives an indication of how hard it will be to stop them from repeating as Premiership winners. This was on a continuum from the last match of last season with the title on the line against QPR and then Sergio Aguero producing that immortal moment in the very last minute.
Aguero unfortunately had to be stretchered off in the 13th minute after brutally twisting his knee. It did not look good. City should have gone ahead after Hooiveld brought down Carlos Tevez spinning around after receiving a clever little backheel by Samir Nasri but the Saints were let off when Silva completely botched the penalty. The Spaniard had one of his poorest games which should put this win in context. But City have the luxury of Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri, two players who can turn things around as they did.
Nasri hoofed the ball to a marginally offside Carlos Tevez who benefited from a lenient linesman and the quicksilver Argentinian darted to the outside and sent in a low shot near post which Kelvin Davis should have dealt with instead the ball squirted through an inviting gap left between him and the post.
Nigel Adkins who reminds one of a slightly less ruddy Sir Alex Ferguson brought in Ricky Lambert, puzzlingly left out from the starting line up after the half and the Saints quickly had their best spell as the Championship top scorer equalized with a familiar killer instinct. It got better as former Rangers midfielder Steven Davis on his debut and his first touch buried the ball past Joe Hart after Adam Lallana laid it off nicely for him. It quieted down the Etihad instantly and as the camera panned over, it showed faces creased with worry.
This was a Saints side who had come to play. But just like they did against QPR, City were able to equalize after a goalmouth melee saw the ball come to Edin Dzeko who poked the ball through. Thereafter, it was end to end action with the Saints coming close to adding a third but they were stopped and City broke on the counterattack with Mario Balotelli finishing off the move with a shot that hit the sidenet. The big man should have done much, much better. A Yaya Toure's free kick had Davis in all kinds of trouble but he managed to bat the ball away and the Saints defense crowded out Silva.
City were rampant by now. Edin Dzeko came close with his header eliciting lots of oohs and aahs and you wondered how much of this the defense could take. Finally, it did crack as Clichy sent in a perfectly weighted cross that Daniel Fox should have glanced away for a corner. He provided a perfect assist heading the ball straight into Nasri's path and the Arsenal turncoat had no complaints with that kind of service. He celebrated by running to the sideline peeling off his jersey and his undershirt read Eid Mubarak which got him a booking.
There was a fair bit of defending to do with about 10 minutes to go but City's experience saw them through. Full marks to the Saints for entertaining the neutrals with a hard fought match against the champions. But City with this display showed they will be tough to knock off as favourites to repeat as Premiership titleholders.
Eid Mubarak to all the millions of Muslims at Ramadan's end.