Southampton produced a major shock by comfortably dispatching Manchester City at St. Mary's, earning an easy 3-1 win thanks mostly to Gareth Barry and Joe Hart as the champions put in a miserable display to fall further out of the title race.
The match began with a bang. If the visitors thought they were going to have it easy, they were quickly shown otherwise by the Saints taking a seventh-minute lead. Jason Puncheon was the orchestrator, robbing Gareth Barry near the left flank before drawing the defence towards him and finding Jay Rodriguez unmarked in the centre. Rodriguez's initial shot was blocked well by Joe Hart, but the rebound fell straight to Puncheon and he slotted home into an unguarded goal.
Southamptonwere in no mood to let up and continued to put heavy pressure on City's back line. They were rewarded for their enterprise fifteen minutes later when Ricky Lambert and Puncheon combined to see the former glide past left back Gael Clichy and find space to shoot on goal from a tight angle. It was an easy save for Hart, but the England number one let it bobble through his legs, and Steven Davis was the first to react, turning the loose ball home from close range to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.
City looked lost, and it took a Saints corner to get them back into the game. Davis attempted to pick out Rodriguez at the top of the box, but Edin Dzeko got there first and powered forward. His interchange with David Silva ended with Silva producing a deft clip for Pablo Zabaleta to charge down, and the right back delivered a low cross into Artur Boruc's box that Dzeko did very well to dig out with a looping finish to make it 2-1.
Southampton should have re-established their two-goal cushion in first half injury time when Yaya Toure took the rather strange liberty of shoving Rodriguez over in the box, but Martin Atkinson took the equally odd decision of awarding a corner kick rather than the penalty the hosts deserved. Barry took it upon himself to rectify the injustice by scoring a comedy own-goal immediately after the restart.
Not for the first time, Lambert found himself free on the left wing. His cross, however, was low, slow and to nobody in particular, but Barry, under zero pressure from anyone, calmly sidefooted the delivery into the bottom corner, leaving Hart so flummoxed he didn't even try to bother saving it.
City were on the verge of an embarrassment as Southampton kept pushing hard for another goal, with the defence barely holding out under heavy pressure. But the champions did look reasonably dangerous on the rare occasions that they were able to break out, and Sergio Aguero nearly pulled a goal back with an angled finished that Boruc was barely able to push wide.
The visitors were never really able to reestablish control of the match, and they certainly didn't look as though they'd get the three goals needed for a win. They didn't even manage one. Bizarre.