The visitor has been knocked out of the EFL Cup

Southampton 2-0 Manchester City: The visitor has been knocked out of the EFL Cup

Sekou Mara put Southampton ahead of Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s decision to field an underwhelming starting line-up backfired as Manchester City were beaten 2-0 by Southampton in Wednesday’s EFL Cup quarter-final clash.

Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Ederson are among City’s substitutes at St Mary’s with Saturday’s league game against Manchester United in mind.

It proved costly as Sekou Mara and Moussa Djenepo – profiting from some of Stefan Ortega’s poor positioning – put the Premier League’s bottom side two goals up in the first half.

The arrivals of De Bruyne and Erling Haaland gave City a bit more attack but they were unable to find their way back into the game as they fell to a shock defeat.

Ortega did well to deny Duje Caleta-Car’s low effort but there was nothing to stop Mara’s first-time shot after the forward got in front of Kyle Walker to convert Lyanco’s cross.

Southampton scored a second five minutes later when Djenepo cut inside, saw Ortega well off his line and executed a perfect 30-yard lob finish.

Guardiola took action at the break by making three substitutions, with Haaland also introduced 10 minutes later, but City’s response did not reach the south coast.

The visitors failed to register a single shot on target as they lost for the fourth time in 28 games this season, and the first time since the World Cup break.

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It’s a competition City have won in six of the last nine years, but they paid off for the five changes made to their line-up, including Walker as a centre-back in a back four.

City substitutions made little difference as Southampton became only the third team after Man Utd (twice) and West Ham to beat Guardiola’s City in the EFL Cup.

The Saints, who are three points from safety in the Premier League, will join Man United, Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest in Wednesday night’s semi-final draw.

A shy town appears

Despite carrying their big guns, plus the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and World Cup winner Julian Alvarez at their side, City have not once tested Gavin Bazunu.

It was the first time City had failed to hit the target in a game this season, while their total of seven shots was also a poor showing from Guardiola’s men.

Mara made her mark

Walker has proven he is a versatile defender but he looked uncomfortable playing at centre-half in a four-man defense and was hooked in the first half.

That was after Mara beat the England international with a right-sided cross for the crucial opening goal, with it his first for the club in his 16th appearance.

What’s next?

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City have Manchester derby contention to come on Saturday, while Southampton travel to fellow struggling Everton that day in a massive relegation battle.

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