Manchester City 4-1 Southampton
Goals from Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic ensured Manchester City maintained the Premier League title pressure on Liverpool and Chelsea with a comfortable win over Southampton.
Toure opened the scoring from the spot in the second minute, but Rickie Lambert equalised with his own penalty in the 36th minute.
However, two first-half injury-time goals by Nasri and Dzeko ensured City held a 3-1 advantage at the interval against an impressive Southampton side.
Nasri's goal proved to be a controversial one, though, after television replays proved David Silva was in an offside position before crossing for the former Arsenal man.
Substitute Jovetic added a fourth for City nine minutes before the end of the match ahead of the crucial game at Liverpool next weekend.
But the Saints' defeat was compounded by the loss of Jay Rodriguez to a knee injury in the 23rd minute, which leaves his possible participation in the World Cup finals with England in doubt.
City made one change to their team with Aleksandar Kolarov replacing Gael Clichy in the starting line-up.
Southampton also made changes with goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga coming in for the injured Artur Boruc, while Morgan Schneiderlin replaced Gaston Ramirez.
Gazzaniga was called into immediate action as City were awarded a penalty in only the second minute of the game.
David Silva laid off a pass to Edin Dzeko on the left, and the striker cut into the area where Jose Fonte stuck out a leg. The Bosnian fell to the floor, and referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot, from where Toure slid home the opening goal.
Silly challenge by Fonte, but Dzeko certainly made the most of it— Stuart Brennan (@StuBrennanMEN) April 5, 2014
But if City fans were expecting the penalty to prompt a wave of further attacks, they were to be disappointed.
Southampton produced a number of attacks in the City half with Rickie Lambert looking particularly dangerous, and Adam Lallana was guilty of failing to collect a great lofted ball from the striker to set up a 16th-minute chance.
Demichelis has done well but he might want to watch Lallana running in behind. Done it twice so far but couldn't bring the ball down.— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) April 5, 2014
There was a worrying moment for Southampton in the 23rd minute when Jay Rodriguez landed awkwardly before clutching his knee and was carried off after treatment on the pitch.
Rodriguez was applauded from the field by City and Saints fans, with fears over his possible participation in the World Cup with England under threat, as Roy Hodgson watched on from the Etihad stands.
Looks a bad injury for Jay Rodriguez. Right knee buckled when he landed...— Mark Ogden (@MOgdenTelegraph) April 5, 2014
The Saints star was replaced by James Ward-Prowse as the visitors regrouped in the wake of Rodriguez's injury.
The loss of Rodriguez handed City an advantage as Southampton gathered their composure, but Jesus Navas should have done better when he swung wildly at Silva's ball from the edge of the area.
In the 35th minute, Dzeko squandered an excellent opportunity to add a second when his free header at the far post flew over the crossbar from Samir Nasri's free-kick.
A minute later, though, that miss proved even costlier.
Southampton midfielder Jack Cork moved into the area and was tripped by Pablo Zabaleta. Referee Foy again pointed to the spot, and boyhood Liverpool fan Lambert slotted the deserved equaliser beyond Joe Hart.
34 out 34 for Rickie Lambert from the penalty spot for Southampton now.— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) April 5, 2014
Fernandinho was cautioned in the 44th minute for a deliberate handball as Schneiderlin looked to lob a ball over the City midfielder.
But in the first minute of injury time, City produced a tremendous second goal.
Toure played the ball to Dzeko, who flicked it into the path of Silva. The Spaniard appeared to be waiting for an offside call, but it never came, and he crossed into the path of Nasri to sidefoot home.
When Dzeko flicked it, Silva is well off.— Peter Hall (@PeteHall86) April 5, 2014
Worse soon followed for the Saints when Dzeko added a third for City before half-time. Nasri played the ball out wide to Kolarov on the left, and his out-swinging cross was perfect for the striker to head home, although he was helped by indecision by Gazzaniga.
That's what good teams do. Southampton the better team for large parts of the first-half but go in 3-1 down. City clinical.— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) April 5, 2014
City manager Manuel Pellegrini switched Fernandinho for Javi Garcia at the start of the second period, as though to protect him from a potential second yellow card while also battening down the hatches.
Martin Demichelis' wayward clearance almost fell for Ward-Prowse, but the City defender used his experience to stave off the challenge and allow Hart to collect.
Toure was looking for a 54th-minute penalty after Fonte bumped him inside the area, but referee Foy allowed play to go on.
A Kolarov effort was deflected over in the 57th minute after tremendous work between Silva, Nasri and Toure set up the opportunity.
Dzeko wasted another chance when he failed to connect properly with a rebound from his original blocked effort.
Don't think Dzeko is ever going to do anything but frustrate Man City fans. They just have to hope he does more good than bad.— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) April 5, 2014
Pellegrini took off Dzeko in the 65th minute and replaced him with Alvaro Negredo, who had not scored in his last 11 appearances for City.
Garcia had looked impressive since his arrival, but a poor challenge on Lallana took the gloss of his display after 68 minutes.
In the 75th minute, Lambert sent an angled strike wide after a great through ball from Lallana. Sam Gallagher came on for Steven Davis immediately after that effort.
Pellegrini also made a substitution when he took off the hugely impressive Silva in place of Stevan Jovetic.
Toure earned a caution from referee Foy when he threw himself to the ground in search of a penalty.
With 10 minutes remaining, City and substitute Jovetic sealed the three points. Vincent Kompany played the ball wide to the right for Navas, and his low, first-time cross found the Montenegro forward perfectly for him to slot home the fourth for the home side.
Negredo almost added a fifth moments later, but Gazzaniga blocked his effort, while Toure struck the post from the edge of the area after a great save by the Saints goalkeeper.
Selected Player Ratings
David Silva: A
Even in a relatively subdued performance, Silva remains the architect for Manchester City. Fears of an injury before the game proved unfounded, but he would be a worrying loss in the title run-in.
David Silva created 6 chances against Southampton with 1 being an assist (although it was offside) #MCFC— EPL Stat Man (@EPLStatman) April 5, 2014
Rickie Lambert: A
Finding form at the right time with the World Cup on the horizon. Was a constant menace to City, especially in the opening period. He needs to be on the plane to Brazil with England.
Edin Dzeko: B+
Still to truly convince this season, and a glaring miss seconds before Southampton's first-half penalty underlined that. But few can argue with his contribution beyond that.
Manchester City will now turn their attention to the crucial Premier League trip to Liverpool next Sunday.
Southampton play host to struggling Cardiff City in the league next Saturday.
Man City striker Edin Dzeko: "We knew Southampton were a great team and they showed this today, but I think we deserved the three points.”— Premier League (@premierleague) April 5, 2014
Man City captain Vincent Kompany: "We knew it would be a big game, and a very difficult one, so we take a lot of confidence from it."— Premier League (@premierleague) April 5, 2014