Manchester City held on to beat Southampton 3-1 for their first Premier League win since October, but Sergio Aguero suffered yet another injury.
City started much the brighter of the two sides and were soon ahead through Kevin de Bruyne, with the Belgian tapping home from close range after excellent work from Raheem Sterling.
That strike came after nine minutes, and just ten later, City’s lead was doubled. De Bruyne turned provider for Fabian Delph, whose heavily-deflected effort found the back of the net.
Southampton seemed shell-shocked in the early openings but grew into the game, pulling one goal back through a Shane Long header in the second half, yet they could not find an equaliser.
The bad news for City came just after the hour mark, with Aguero suffering an apparent twisted ankle after landing awkwardly, the Argentinean having to be substituted straight after. Aleksandar Kolarov added a third soon after.
It was a bruising encounter and Saints, after standing up to City, may rue their slow start.
City began with a determination to put an end to their recent poor sequence.
Kolarov hit the bar from a free-kick in the opening minutes and Maarten Stekelenburg anxiously grabbed the ball as City players swarmed in.
More pressure led to the opener after nine minutes as Sterling robbed Maya Yoshida and sprinted into the area to square for De Bruyne to tap in.
The impressive Delph then took advantage of slack defending to feed Aguero but Stekelenburg rushed out to block the Argentinean.
City appealed for a penalty when Steven Davis appeared to block a Fernandinho header on the line with his arm, but the sense of injustice did not last long as Delph struck from the resulting corner.
The midfielder needed no invitation to shoot as the ball rolled into his path outside the area but he benefited from a big deflection off the luckless Virgil van Dijk as Stekelenburg was wrong-footed.
That seemed to spark Saints into life and Van Dijk was unfortunate again as he struck the bar from 25 yards.
Willy Caballero, standing in for the injured Joe Hart, then failed to deal with a James Ward-Prowse free-kick but recovered to keep out Sadio Mane’s follow-up effort. Another Ward-Prowse set-piece flew narrowly wide.
The tempo increased and the tackles became tougher with Nicolas Otamendi going in strong on Mane and illegally on Long. Van Dijk and Bacary Sagna clashed heads while Fonte was injured in a heavy and questionable challenge on Aguero.
Sterling fired over when presented with a great chance to make it 3-0 and Saints pulled one back early in the second half as Long powered in a header from a superb Mane cross.
That gave Southampton even more encouragement and the probing of Dusan Tadic, a shrewd half-time introduction, continually troubled the hosts.
Cabellero also looked nervy in goal but he clawed away an attempted Tadic chip and City escaped as Long’s follow-up shot struck the arm of a defender. Long had another effort saved by Caballero as Saints kept up the pressure.
City suffered a further blow as leading striker Aguero limped off with an ankle injury but they will at least have been buoyed by the introduction of David Silva from the bench after nine games out.
City weathered the storm and took the sting out of the game with a third goal after 69 minutes.
Sterling made the initial run and Wilfried Bony was involved before De Bruyne, resisting the temptation to shoot, cleverly picked out an unmarked Kolarov on the far side. The Serbian drove home to ease City nerves.
Bony should have had another as he shot horribly wide late on but City had done enough, even though they may have been left to count the cost.