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John Stones was at the centre of the action as Manchester City drew 1-1 with Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to go back to the top of the Premier League table.

Stones gifted the Saints their first-half opener and had what he thought was an equaliser ruled out for offside soon afterwards.

There had been little sign of the drama to come in a low-key opening spell that saw City, beaten 4-0 at Barcelona in midweek, struggle to get their passing game going against their hard-pressing visitors.

Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster made a confident claim from an early David Silva cross, but threatening moments were otherwise hard to come by until a 15th minute cross from Fernandinho just eluded Raheem Sterling at the far post.

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Kevin De Bruyne then failed to find the returning Sergio Aguero with an attempted square pass on the edge of the Southampton area — and after 27 minutes, disaster struck for Stones.

The England international failed to notice the lurking Nathan Redmond as he played a backpass to Claudio Bravo and Redmond pounced, taking the ball wide of the goalkeeper and finishing coolly.

Six minutes later, Stones thought he had redeemed himself, only for his crisp strike from a De Bruyne free-kick to be ruled out for offside against Sergio Aguero.

City failed to muster an effort on target before the break and manager Pep Guardiola had seen enough, bringing on Kelechi Iheanacho for De Bruyne.

His change paid dividends 10 minutes into the second period when Iheanacho scored his fourth goal in seven matches to level, firing home from Leroy Sane’s cross to round off a move that began with a fine long pass by Fernandinho.

Saints boss Claude Puel made his own change after 67 minutes, bringing on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg for Jordy Clasie but within two minutes he had cause to be grateful to goalkeeper Fraser Forster, whose fine low stop from an Ilkay Gundogan effort kept the scores level.

Saints made a second substitution soon afterwards, bringing on Sofiane Boufal for Dusan Tadic and, within moments, Forster was in action again, beating away an effort from Silva at his near post.

Boufal quickly manufactured a chance for the visitors, rolling the ball across the area to the unmarked Charlie Austin, whose strike was stopped by Bravo.

As the match approached its final 10 minutes, Guardiola took off captain Vincent Kompany, back in the side after missing out on the squad for the Barcelona game altogether, and replaced him with Jesus Navas as he went for an all-out attacking approach.

Aguero almost snatched a late winner when he steered an angled effort across goal and wide, while Southampton took off Austin and brought on James Ward-Prowse as the minutes ticked away.

Guardiola brought on Nolito for Sane as five minutes of injury time began but, despite waves of City pressure that saw Fernandinho fire over from distance and Iheanacho have an attempt charged down, Southampton held on to take a point.

 

Culled from ESPNFC

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