MANCHESTER, England — Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne both scored twice to lead Manchester City to a 5-2 victory over Southampton on Wednesday, moving 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
City was contentiously denied a penalty with the score 1-1 in the first half after goalkeeper Alex McCarthy was adjudged not to have fouled Phil Foden and VAR did not overrule.
But City responded to win convincingly as Mahrez put the hosts ahead and then set up Ilkay Gundogan to make it 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium before halftime.
The Algerian added another after the break and De Bruyne scored the fifth after Che Adams had pulled one back.
De Bruyne also opened the scoring in the 15th minute with James Ward-Prowse replying from the penalty spot.
City appeared to be feeling the effects of Sunday’s Manchester derby loss that ended a 21-match wining run as the hosts began unusually sluggishly.
Yet for all their positivity, Saints were unable to create any clear-cut chances and they were caught out as City took the lead from its first serious attack.
The move was started by Ruben Dias, who picked out Oleksandr Zinchenko with a superb crossfield pass. Zinchenko then fed Foden and, although his shot was parried by McCarthy, De Bruyne was on hand to thump home off the underside of the bar.
Southampton quickly drew level. Jannik Vestergaard tested Ederson with a powerful header from a corner and was fouled by Laporte in the process. Referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot and Ward-Prowse fired down the middle.
Controversy erupted soon after as City felt they should have had a penalty themselves. McCarthy went in feet first on Foden and appeared to catch him on the ankle after the City midfielder had taken advantage of an error by the goalkeeper.
Moss, presumably thinking McCarthy had got a touch on the ball, gave nothing and City — particularly manager Pep Guardiola on the touchline— was incredulous when VAR did not intervene.
Foden quickly got back to his feet in an attempt to score but the chance was gone.
The incident appeared to unsettle City as Ward-Prowse tested Ederson from distance and Moussa Djenepo fired wide but Mahrez changed the course of the game with two moments of brilliance.
First he restored City’s lead as he cut in from the left to collect a pass from the right and bend a shot around McCarthy from the edge of the area.
Mahrez was then instrumental in making it 3-1 after weaving through the area and firing against the post. Gundogan tapped in the rebound.
Mahrez scored City’s fourth himself after 55 minutes as he took a pass from Foden and skipped around Ward-Prowse before beating McCarthy again.
That was the first of three goals in a frantic four minutes.
Southampton caught the City defense napping to pull one back when Adams benefited from a ricochet to strike from close range.
City replied again as De Bruyne combined well with Foden before expertly placing the ball past McCarthy.
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