Mark Hughes admitted to feeling flat after Saints were denied a point by a late Gabriel Jesus goal as they were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City at St Mary’s.

Having lost to City at the Etihad earlier this season to a stoppage time goal it was a repeat performance of sorts as this time Saints kept the champions at bay for all but virtually the last kick of the game.

The result ultimately didn’t matter with Saints having done enough to avoid relegation, though it did cost them one place in the table and £2m in prize money.

However, Hughes has guided the team to safety, and that was the main job in hand.

He said: “I need to give myself a shake because I’m a little bit flat because I felt we should have won this game against the champions.

“You expect the best team in England to always go to the end and we ended up losing a game I thought we possibly should have won.

“The bigger picture was to make sure we got the job done and we could have taken our eye off the ball and not get the job done, albeit Tuesday night was the key one for us.

“I thought we put in a fantastic, professional performance, which is what I demanded before the game and credit to the guys.

“I am sure they will get over it like I will after a few beers.”

It was debatable whether City were at their very best, but as the game wore on there is no doubt they tried to really step it up as they battled to become the first team to reach 100 points in the Premier League.

“I felt we made it difficult for them and there was no lack of desire or determination and that’s why they are champions of England,” insisted Hughes.

“They are one of the top teams in Europe and when you are champions of the Premier League you keep on going right until the end.

“I have been part of a team on a couple of occasions who have won the Premier League and when you are champions you do certain things in a certain manner and that’s what Man City do.

“They are an outstanding team and the records they have smashed are unbelievable.

“You could see their reaction at the end and just speaking to Pep he acknowledges that the fact they had so many records they could break kept their focus.

“There was no way they were off the money. They were trying to win that game but we put in a really good performance.”