Manchester City began the defence of their Premier League title in similarly dramatic fashion to that in which they won it - this time with a thrilling victory over Southampton.
City secured the championship three months ago with two goals at the death to beat QPR 3-2 and once again relied on a late flurry to make sure they started the new campaign the way they finished the last.
After Carlos Tevez had put City ahead, Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis replied to give the newly promoted Saints a surprise lead with only 20 minutes left.
But the champions fought back to level through Edin Dzeko before Samir Nasri struck 10 minutes from time, leaving Roberto Mancini's men to hang on for a breath-taking triumph.
"First day, last day - not quite a carbon copy but levels of drama to almost match what we saw in May. What a second half we've seen. Manchester City do make a winning start to the season and what entertainment the Premier League new boys Southampton have given us."
It was clear almost from the outset that things would not be straightforward for City against a team that was playing in League One only two years ago.
City lost last season's top scorer Sergio Aguero to a serious-looking knee injury after just 13 minutes and saw David Silva make a mess of a penalty moments later.
Aguero scored 23 top-flight goals last season, including the dramatic injury-time strike against QPR that gave his side the title in the last minute of the last day of the campaign.
The drama that followed after the Argentine striker was stretchered off against the Saints was not quite in the same bracket as that momentous afternoon in May but City's fans were still given a rollercoaster ride on their way to the three points.
Aguero had gone down clutching his knee in agony after an innocuous challenge by Nathaniel Clyne and, although he got to his feet, he ended up being carried down the tunnel.
City's day got worse three minutes later, with Silva seeing his penalty easily stopped by Kelvin Davis after Jos Hooiveld fouled Tevez inside the box.
Man City v Saints key facts
- City are unbeaten in 30 Premier League home games (winning 28)
- This was only the eighth Premier League game in which three substitutes scored
- Southampton scored with both their shots on target
- Reigning champions have never lost their opening Premier League game
Southampton seemed galvanised by that Davis save and they defended stubbornly until just before the break, when Tevez beat the offside trap to squeeze home his shot inside the post.
The home side created a flurry of chances at the start of the second half but Dzeko and Gael Clichy both missed the target and Silva somehow fired against the bar from close range after being set up by Nasri.
Saints substitute Lambert, the top scorer in the Championship last season, punished them for their wastefulness when he drilled home a loose ball to level out of the blue just before the hour mark.
If that goal was a big surprise to the home fans, they were stunned eight minutes later when Southampton swept forward from a City corner and Davis, who like Lambert had only been on the field a matter of minutes, found the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Mancini's men responded immediately, with Yaya Toure setting up Dzeko to fire home from close range and bring the City supporters back to life.
That left 18 minutes for City to find a winner, which duly arrived when Clichy's cross bounced into the path of Nasri, who found the net with a fierce drive from 10 yards out.
- 01 Hart
- 04 Kompany
- 05 Zabaleta
- 06 Lescott
- 22 Clichy
- 08 Nasri Booked
- 17 Rodwell
- 21 Silva (Balotelli - 72' )
- 42 Y Toure
- 16 Aguero (Dzeko - 14' )
- 32 Tevez (Kolarov - 87' )
- 30 Pantilimon
- 13 Kolarov
- 15 Savic
- 07 Milner
- 34 De Jong
- 10 Dzeko
- 45 Balotelli
- 01 K Davis
- 02 Clyne
- 05 Hooiveld
- 06 Fonte
- 13 Fox Booked
- 04 Schneiderlin Booked
- 16 Ward-Prowse (S Davis - 65' )
- 20 Lallana
- 21 Guly
- 42 Puncheon (Sharp - 86' )
- 09 Rodriguez (Lambert - 55' )
- 12 Gazzaniga
- 22 Richardson
- 23 Shaw
- 25 Seaborne
- 08 S Davis
- 07 Lambert
- 11 Sharp
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.89:46
The ball is delivered by Jose Fonte, clearance by Pablo Zabaleta.89:36
Steven Davis sends in a cross, clearance by Pablo Zabaleta.86:21
Yaya Toure takes the free kick.86:21 Substitution
Substitution Aleksandar Kolarov on for Carlos Tevez.86:21 Booking
Booking Morgan Schneiderlin shown a yellow card.86:16
Morgan Schneiderlin gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Carlos Tevez.85:06 Substitution
Substitution Jason Puncheon goes off and Billy Sharp comes on.84:56
A cross is delivered by Jason Puncheon.83:32
Adam Lallana produces a cross, Shot on goal by Jose Fonte from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.82:52
Corner taken left-footed by Daniel Fox to the near post, clearance by Joleon Lescott.82:31
Shot by Morgan Schneiderlin from 25 yards. Blocked by Joleon Lescott.81:21 Booking
Booking Samir Nasri receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.79:35
Gael Clichy provided the assist for the goal.79:35 Goal scored
Goal! - Samir Nasri - Man City 3 - 2 Southamp'n Goal scored by Samir Nasri from deep inside the penalty area to the top left corner of the goal. Man City 3-2 Southampton.79:24
The ball is sent over by Gael Clichy, clearance made by Daniel Fox.77:31
Joleon Lescott fouled by Guly Do Prado, the ref awards a free kick. Pablo Zabaleta restarts play with the free kick.76:58
The ball is sent over by Yaya Toure, Headed effort from inside the area by Edin Dzeko misses to the right of the goal.75:08
Jason Puncheon gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli. Strike comes in from Yaya Toure from the free kick, save by Kelvin Davis.73:52
Corner taken by Samir Nasri from the left by-line, save by Kelvin Davis.
Close range effort by Mario Balotelli misses to the left of the goal.73:12
Adam Lallana takes a shot. Gael Clichy gets a block in.71:33
Yaya Toure provided the assist for the goal.71:33 Goal scored
Goal! - Edin Dzeko - Man City 2 - 2 Southamp'n Edin Dzeko finds the back of the net with a goal from close range to the top left corner of the goal. Man City 2-2 Southampton.71:25
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Samir Nasri, clearance made by Jos Hooiveld. Vincent Kompany takes a shot. Blocked by Vincent Kompany.71:01 Substitution
Substitution Mario Balotelli replaces David Silva.70:48
The ball is crossed by Pablo Zabaleta, clearance by Jos Hooiveld.69:04
Drilled right-footed shot by Carlos Tevez. Jos Hooiveld gets a block in.68:49
Corner taken by David Silva from the right by-line played to the near post, Guly Do Prado manages to make a clearance.68:35
Carlos Tevez has a drilled shot. Blocked by Adam Lallana.67:02
Assist by Adam Lallana.67:02 Goal scored
Goal! - Steven Davis - Man City 1 - 2 Southamp'n Steven Davis gets on the score sheet with a goal from the edge of the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man City 1-2 Southampton.66:35
Corner taken by Samir Nasri.65:30
Morgan Schneiderlin challenges Carlos Tevez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Carlos Tevez, Rickie Lambert gets a block in.64:39 Substitution
Substitution Steven Davis is brought on as a substitute for James Ward-Prowse.60:08 Booking
Booking The referee shows Daniel Fox a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.62:43
The ball is sent over by Yaya Toure, Jason Puncheon manages to make a clearance.58:41
Assist on the goal came from Guly Do Prado.58:41 Goal scored
Goal! - Rickie Lambert - Man City 1 - 1 Southamp'n Rickie Lambert finds the net with a goal from the edge of the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man City 1-1 Southampton.57:26
Effort on goal by Carlos Tevez from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.56:25
Jason Puncheon sends in a cross, Adam Lallana produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.56:04
Shot by James Ward-Prowse. Joleon Lescott gets a block in.55:44
Carlos Tevez gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jos Hooiveld. Jos Hooiveld takes the direct free kick.54:55 Substitution
Substitution Rickie Lambert on for Jay Rodriguez.54:05
The ball is swung over by Carlos Tevez, Kelvin Davis makes a save. Shot from inside the area by David Silva clears the bar.53:14
Pablo Zabaleta takes a shot. Jos Hooiveld gets a block in.52:44
Inswinging corner taken by Samir Nasri, clearance by Jos Hooiveld.51:07
Shot from close range by Gael Clichy clears the bar.48:42
Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Save made by Kelvin Davis.45:01
The second half begins.45:00 +4:05 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.45:00 +1:43
Shot by David Silva. Blocked by Jose Fonte.45:00 +1:22
Carlos Tevez produces a drilled right-footed shot from 12 yards. Save by Kelvin Davis.45:00 +1:03
A cross is delivered by Pablo Zabaleta, Jose Fonte makes a clearance.43:26
Edin Dzeko takes a shot. Kelvin Davis makes a comfortable save.39:40
Assist on the goal came from Samir Nasri.39:40 Goal scored
Goal! - Carlos Tevez - Man City 1 - 0 Southamp'n Carlos Tevez grabs a goal from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man City 1-0 Southampton.38:22
Guly Do Prado is ruled offside. Vincent Kompany takes the indirect free kick.35:33
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Daniel Fox from the right by-line to the near post.34:49
The referee penalises Pablo Zabaleta for handball. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Adam Lallana, Samir Nasri makes a clearance.34:36
The ball is delivered by Daniel Fox.33:04
Jay Rodriguez fouled by Yaya Toure, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Jose Fonte.31:54
Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Save made by Kelvin Davis.30:41
Samir Nasri takes a inswinging corner.30:29
Centre by Gael Clichy, clearance made by Jose Fonte.28:48
Carlos Tevez delivers the ball, clearance by Jose Fonte.16:50
Short corner taken by David Silva.16:39 Penalty
Power penalty taken by David Silva saved by Kelvin Davis. Man City 0-0 Southampton.15:37
Penalty awarded for a foul by Jos Hooiveld on Carlos Tevez.14:18
Samir Nasri has an effort at goal from 12 yards. Blocked by Jose Fonte.13:38 Substitution
Substitution Sergio Aguero leaves the field to be replaced by Edin Dzeko.11:46
Morgan Schneiderlin produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the goal.6:53
James Ward-Prowse has an effort at goal. Jack Rodwell gets a block in.6:31
Guly Do Prado fouled by Vincent Kompany, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Adam Lallana.4:56
Yaya Toure fouled by Adam Lallana, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Yaya Toure.4:22
The offside flag is raised against Carlos Tevez. Jose Fonte takes the free kick.3:50
Nathaniel Clyne crosses the ball, Vincent Kompany makes a clearance.2:35
Morgan Schneiderlin fouled by Pablo Zabaleta, the ref awards a free kick. Daniel Fox takes the direct free kick.1:49
Corner taken short by Adam Lallana.0:00
The game kicks-off.
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