Manchester City: Manuel Pellegrini boosted by return to form

By Simon StoneBBC Sport at Etihad Stadium
Strong second half pleases Pellegrini

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes his team have returned to form at the right time.

City beat Southampton 4-1 to reduce the gap to Premier League leaders Liverpool to a point, with a visit to Anfield next Sunday.

"Maybe we had a low performance in February," said Pellegrini. "Now the team has come back.

"We have four wins and a draw from our last five games. The way we have played in the last month is important."

Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko and substitute Stevan Jovetic scored for City after Yaya Toure and Rickie Lambert had exchanged penalties.

City have taken 13 points from the last 15 on offer, having recovered from a spell that saw them pick up one point from two league games, get knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan and lose twice to Barcelona in the Champions League.

The 2012 Premier League champions have seven matches remaining this season, and will have two games in hand when they face Liverpool, who play West Ham on Sunday.

"I don't think we apply pressure to the other teams or they apply it to us," said Pellegrini.

"The four teams have the same pressure from now until the end of the season because they all have chances to win the title.

"We play before the other teams this week but they already know they have to win, whether they know our result or not."

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Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino felt the contest hinged on the decision to award City a second-minute penalty for Jose Fonte's challenge on Dzeko.

He also lamented the assistant referee's failure to spot David Silva in an offside position in the build-up to City's second goal.

Asked for his thoughts as Nasri tapped home Silva's cross, Pochettino said: "You couldn't imagine what I was thinking.

"The penalty we conceded and the second goal killed the game.

"To beat a team like Manchester City, not only do you have to have the perfect game but also the refereeing decisions have to be fair. That did not happen today.

"I don't think you can give a penalty like that after just two minutes. It is unexplainable. It is not right.

"The second decision was clearly two metres offside. It was the type of game you play at school."