Vincent Kompany's first Premier League goal for 20 months prompted an outpouring of relief and frustration after two injury-ravaged seasons for the Manchester City defender.
Kompany's headed opener in the 55th minute marked his first league goal since August 2015, though various injuries have limited him to just 17 top-flight appearances in that time.
MAN CITY: Bravo 5, Navas 3, Kompany 13, Otamendi 8, Clichy 8, Fernandinho 3, Toure 3, De Bruyne 12, Silva 5, Sane 8, Aguero 8.
City's victory at St Mary's, which could have been even more one-sided than the score suggests, sent them up to third and gave them a points cushion over Arsenal and United, who both have two games in hand.
"I scored in front of the away fans and for me it was a great feeling", the Belgian said. "And with players like Kompany and Silva we have players who can deliver on the counter-attack".
"Sometimes when you realise you can not lose, when you feel the pressure, the real pressure because you would be so criticised, the players make a step forward", he said.
"I said to the players from the beginning we are going to play pre-season in China to play a friendly game and we have to win that game". Not just the defensive part - he's helped us a lot - but he is doing all he can do to create chances.
City's Yaya Toure provided the first on-target effort early in the second half but his effort posed no threat to Forster, before James Ward-Prowse curled an ambitious free kick over the angle of Claudio Bravo's goal.
After a run of four league games without a win City have registered back-to-back league victories and face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final next week.
Despite Kompany's struggles, Guardiola believes his captain can still play a crucial role over the final weeks of the season. Everton also sit on 57 points however the Toffees have played one more game than their Manchester counterparts. We drew at home, and unfortunately lost 5-2 at Barcelona, but it was fantastic to see his team, his players.
There's a youthful theme to Tuesday's media round-up, with the newspapers carrying stories on Manchester City youngsters Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.