MANCHESTER, England — Raheem Sterling scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time to earn Manchester City a dramatic 2-1 win over Southampton in the Premier League on Wednesday, re-establishing his team’s eight-point lead.
Amid wild celebrations from City players and coaching staff, manager Pep Guardiola ran onto the field, pumped his fists and jumped in delight after Sterling curled a finish into the far corner from just inside the area. The full-time whistle was blown immediately after Southampton restarted.
City won a 12th straight league game — and just like against Huddersfield in a 2-1 victory on Sunday, Sterling was a late match-winner. He has 13 goals now this season, making him City’s top scorer.
Sterling celebrated by running the length of the field, with his teammates chasing after him. Benjamin Mendy, out with a serious knee injury, hobbled down the touchline to join in the celebrations and attempted to take a selfie with Sterling.
A frenzied Guardiola was uncontrollable — he was told to calm down by the referee, and Guardiola then confronted Nathan Redmond as the Southampton winger walked off the field, shouting at him and patting him forcefully on the chest.
“You have to enjoy these situations, you never know what will happen in the future,” Guardiola said. “We want to win the league but you have to celebrate when you score in the last breath like that.”
On his confrontation with Redmond, Guardiola added: “(I was telling him) how good a player he is. Last season he destroyed us.”
Oriol Romeu looked as if he had earned a point for Southampton in the 75th minute when he swept home from close range. That canceled out City’s opener, which came when Virgil van Dijk sliced a free kick from Kevin De Bruyne into his own net in the 47th minute.
The only time City has dropped points in the league this season was a 1-1 at home to Everton in the second round of games. City remains unbeaten after 14 games and opponents might finally be working out how to compete with Guardiola’s side.
Perhaps seeing how an ultra-defensive Huddersfield frustrated City, Southampton lined up with five defenders and three defensive midfielders — and the tactics worked in the first half.
In fact, Southampton came closest to scoring, with Wesley Hoedt heading against the crossbar after a near-post corner was flicked on.
It was a different story in the second half thanks to a stroke of luck two minutes after the restart. De Bruyne whipped in a low free kick from the left wing and, in attempting to smash the ball clear, Van Dijk sliced it into his own net.
It meant Southampton needed to come forward more and City looked to pick them off, with Gabriel Jesus curling one shot off target and another being kept out by goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
The equalizer came from a rare Southampton attack and owed much to a great touch from Sofiane Boufal. The substitute brought a high ball down at the far post, got to the byline and cut it back for Romeu to steer home.
There was still time for Sterling’s last-gasp intervention and wild scenes inside Etihad Stadium.
“They made it really difficult for us,” Sterling said, “but we have a feeling in the dressing room that nobody wants to drop points.”
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80