Raheem Sterling’s bitter relationship with VAR was reignited as Manchester City had a late winner over Southampton ruled out for offside – but the Premier League champions were also saved by criticism in the 0-0 draw.
After a 6-3 Champions League win over RB Leipzig, goals were expected as Southampton traveled to Manchester, but manager Ralph Hasenhuttl clearly had other plans.
James Ward-Prowse almost had Southampton in the lead from the start when his brilliantly floated cross was missed by everyone, but City keeper Ederson was up to it, cleverly knocking him down.
Summer signing of £ 100million Jack Grealish has continuously found space on the left side of the Saints’ defense but has done little with the ball, clearly not learning from his intense training session on the pitch of Pep Guardiola in the middle of the week.
He gave Raheem Sterling a chance to shoot wide, while Southampton were equally apathetic to City’s left with Nathan Redmond and Mohamed Elyounoussi squandering breakaway opportunities.
In the second half, Kyle Walker gave himself a huge job of cleaning up with an hour gone, when a bad pass was intercepted and passed on to Adam Armstrong who carried him to the zone before colliding with Walker.
Referee John Moss immediately issued a penalty and a red card with some certainty, but was called to his VAR monitor where he soon realized that Armstrong was already descending, although there was had contact.
And there was even more late drama with VAR involved, when City believed they had won it in stoppage time as Raheem Sterling walked away in celebration.
However, an incredibly tight offside call showed Sterling’s toes right in front of Phil Foden after the midfielder had a header denied by Alex McCarthy.
In scenes reminiscent of City’s dramatic Champions League quarter-final loss to Tottenham, Sterling’s celebrations have once again been cut short, and he seems more than most a victim of VAR’s late appeals.
A rare spectacle then ensued in stoppage time, with the Saints keeping the ball in the corner to waste time, not for three points, but just one, which they duly claimed.