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Erling Haaland kept Manchester City’s title hopes alive with goals either side of half-time in his side’s 4-1 victory over Southampton at St Mary’s.

The Norway striker broke the deadlock with a header on 45 minutes before Jack Grealish made it two after the restart.

Haaland’s Premier League-leading 30th goal was a beautiful bicycle-kick finish, with the visitors only able to claw one back through Sekou Mara.

That was quickly cancelled out when Kevin De Bruyne drew a penalty, allowing Haaland’s substitute Julian Alvarez to share the glory as he fired in the spot-kick.

One of Haaland’s 28 goals going into Saturday’s contest came in the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium in October against a Saints side then managed by Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Two managers later, and with the sides separated by 41 points, Ruben Selles’ men looked to get something started early on a sunny south coast evening when Carlos Alcaraz took possession at the right of the area but found himself without a viable option at the far post as he sent the ball across the face of goal.

City tested Gavin Bazunu inside the first five minutes, Ilkay Gundogan finding Grealish who forced a good save out of the Saints shot-stopper with a drive from 15 yards out.

The visitors were on the brink of danger when an alert Kamaldeen Sulemana intercepted De Bruyne’s short corner inside his own half and broke free with Nathan Ake in hot pursuit.

The 21-year-old charged into City’s half but miscontrolled at the end of his run allowing keeper Ederson to smother the ball.

The moment seemed to lift Saints’ spirits, however, and they were soon back on the attack as Mohamed Elyounoussi directed the ball into the area, hoping to find Alcaraz who bent forward but could not get his head on the cross.

Though City enjoyed over 70 per cent of possession the hosts did well to largely shut down Haaland, who had only taken four touches as the match approached the 40-minute mark.

He had doubled that tally by half-time, missing a header before making one count as he connected with De Bruyne’s cross from the left and nodded his 29th goal of the season – six more than Southampton had collectively scored – past Bazunu.

City missed an early chance to double their advantage after the restart when Grealish cut back to Gundogan, who drove into the area but fired just wide of the right post.

Jack Grealish celebrates after scoring City's second goal
Jack Grealish celebrates after scoring City’s second goal (Adam Davy/PA)

But it was not long before Grealish, who had been bright throughout the first period, threatened again as he sent a sharp strike at Bazunu, who made the initial low stop but could not hang on to the rebound.

That proved costly as the England international pounced and fired home, 10 minutes later turning provider when he patiently wove into the area before crossing to Haaland, who finished spectacularly.

Saints ensured the visitors would not head home with a clean sheet when substitute Moussa Djenepo neatly evaded two opponents and fed Mara, who sent a low strike past Ederson.

It took City just three minutes to restore their three-goal advantage when Kyle Walker-Peters brought down De Bruyne, the referee pointed to the spot and Alvarez, who had come on for Haaland in the 75th minute, fired home to seal victory.