Barclay’s English Premiership
Sunday 19 April 2009, 15:00 KO
City: Given, Zabaleta, Dunne (c), Onuoha, Bridge, Kompany, de Jong, Ireland, Elano (Gelson 74), Robinho (Petrov 83), Caicedo (Sturridge 57)
Unused: Hart, Richards, Garrido, Evans
Goals: Robinho (7), Onuoha (20), Elano (pen 55), Sturridge (90+4)
City Man of the Match: Nedum Onuoha
City had to shake themselves down from their physically and emotionally exhausting game with Hamburg on Thursday and get back to business in their hunt for 7th place. West Brom, bottom of the Premiership, were making the trip to Manchester, desperate for points in their scrap to avoid playing Championship football next season.
The game looked to begin in a nervy manner, with the first chance of the game falling to Marc-Antoine Fortune, but his shot was comfortably wide of Given’s right hand post.
Graham Dorrans then skewed a shot wide, before James Morrison curled one around the far post, with the City fans wondering where the home side were.
And it was down to Robinho to show them. City had their first real spell of possession, knocking the ball around the midfield before it fell to Stephen Ireland. It was his perfect ball over the top to Robinho that just needed touching in and the Brazilian didn’t disappoint.
Two minutes later, it should have been 1-1. Former Bolton defender Abdoulaye Meite had a golden opportunity to punish the home side for some slack defending, but he somehow managed to miss the target from three yards out from a corner.
On 20 minutes, City extended their lead in somewhat controversial style. A right wing corner was headed straight up into the air and Nedum Onuoha scored his second of the season, heading past the on-coming Scott Carson. Replays showed, though, that Caicedo may have fouled the West Brom goalkeeper as the centre-back headed the ball.
West Brom weren’t finished, though, as Caicedo had to be alert to head off the line, from a Robert Korran header and Given was able to comfortably save a shot from Paul Robinson, as the visitors looked for a way back into the game.
City were finally punished for slack defending, though, when Chris Brunt was found unmarked in the box and he didn’t need a second invitation to slide the ball past Shay Given.
City started the second half in the same way they finished the first – shaky in defence and not enjoying a lot of possession. A spell of West Brom pressure came to nothing, before Robinho tried to curl a shot past Carson, but it was well wide.
Then, on 53 minutes, Chris Brunt scored his second of the game and West Brom’s equaliser directly from a free-kick on the right hand side of the box. It was a low cross-cum-shot that missed everybody and flew into the bottom corner of Given’s goal.
But the game wasn’t even for long. From the restart, City worked the ball to the box, where Elano weaved his way across the box and was felled by Jonas Olssen. Elano himself got up to score his second penalty in two games.
West Brom began to push for an equaliser, as Greening went down in the box, but the referee judged that Ireland won the ball, before Vincent Kompany was booked for what appeared to be a fair tackle.
Petrov joined the action for Robinho, who looked back on form for City, and his first action was to swing in a free-kick. Vincent Kompany scored, but it was disallowed as the referee judged Onuoha to be fouling a defender, despite his own shirt being tugged virtually off his back.
Sturridge then had the chance to seal the game for City, as a breakaway fell to Petrov. The Bulgarian beat two men before laying the ball to his right – rather than shooting with his wrong foot – but Sturridge’s shot was blocked.
Then, in the final seconds of the game, Ireland broke from midfield as West Brom pushed forward. He was one-on-one with Carson, but chose to square to Sturridge, who scuffed his shot, but it managed to beat the despairing dive of the goalkeeper.
City left the ground with three points, after making the job much harder than it needed to be. Nevertheless, it put the blues up to 41 points and back into the top half of the table.