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Sunday 25 September 2016

Mane on song as City slip up in race for fourth

Southampton's Shane Long
Southampton's Shane Long

Sadio Mane's hat-trick helped Southampton thump Manchester City's disjointed and disinterested second string 4-2 in yesterday's Premier League clash at St Mary's.

Ireland striker Shane Long also found the net as Saints kept their Europa League qualification bid alive, strolling home against a City line-up distracted as much by fears for their individual futures as thoughts of the Champions League. Kelechi Iheanacho struck twice for the visitors, but Manuel Pellegrini's largely reserve line-up wilted with precious little resistance on the south coast.

City boss Pellegrini made eight changes from Tuesday's goalless Champions League semi-final first leg draw with Real Madrid, gearing up for Wednesday's return at the Bernabeu.

The Chilean duly exposed the shortcomings in his squad building at the Etihad outfit however, with many on show rightly fretting that Pep Guardiola will wield the axe on arrival at the club this summer.

Pellegrini's rotation backfired spectacularly with City yet to close out a top-four finish to guarantee Champions League football next term.

He said: "I tried to select the team that we thought would win the game," he said. "I also think that I had to select the team that I think would play on Wednesday.

"Maybe if we played on the Saturday we could have different options for this game. It's difficult always to have a result." The Chilean, though, was still frustrated with the way City allowed Southampton to coast to victory.

He added: "I was disappointed in the way we defended, today we were less concentrated and we had a lot of problems."

Southampton hero Mane took his Premier League tally this season to 10 with his treble but the Senegal striker said the win was all that mattered.

He said: "It was more important to get the three points today to keep us going. I think all four goals gave me satisfaction, it was about the performance of the team, we played fantastic football today and we'll try to work hard for the next games."

The Saints are still in the hunt for a Europa League place and captain Fonte vowed not to give up. He said: "It's important to be in the fight, you never know what can happen in the Premier League. We look forward to the Spurs game now."

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