English Premier League
Wednesday 11 April 2012, 19.45 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Clichy, Kompany (c), Lescott, de Jong, Barry, Silva (Zabaleta 81), Nasri, Aguero (Dzeko 73), Tevez (A Johnson 63)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Milner, Pizarro
Goals: Aguero (5, 54), Tevez (61), Silva (64)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero
City needed a good start to wash away the disappointment of Sunday’s result and that’s exactly what they got. With just five minutes played, the home side had the lead; Aguero picked up the ball in midfield and carried it straight at the West Brom defence. They backed off and the Argentine had room to shoot from the edge of the box. His effort curled around the covering defenders and beat Foster into the bottom corner.
But if the City fans were hoping the floodgates would open early on, they would have been disappointed. While the home side dominated possession and the visitors didn’t come close to troubling Hart, there was little in the way of good goalscoring opportunities. Tevez sliced the ball well wide after a series of one-twos involving Nasri.
Richards broke the line of defence to shoot. The effort beat Foster, but not the defender Dawson on the line. Then, as half time approached, Tevez slipped the ball to Silva on the left, but the Spaniard waited too long and his effort from the edge of the box was deflected over the bar.
The second half, though, was where City came alive. It started as Nasri volleyed a Silva cross into the side netting, before Silva blasted a shot from the edge of the box that caught Dawson square in the face and knocked him clean to the ground. The pressure on the visitors was building.
And it soon told: Nasri slipped the ball to Aguero on the left side of the box and, breaking in at the goalkeeper, he opened his body up and slid a shot into the bottom corner of the net. He doubled City’s lead and the home side were cruising.
That second goal did trigger the floodgates: Next up it was Tevez. Nasri found Aguero running into the left side of the box and, after stretching to keep the ball in, he pulled it back towards the Frenchman. He didn’t connect, but behind him was Tevez and, with just the goalkeeper to beat, he made no mistake to smash the ball home, ending any of West Brom’s hopes of a revival.
Minutes later, some brilliant closing down from Clichy forced a mistake and Aguero stole the ball inside the visitors’ half. Running at the last remaining defender, he slipped the ball wide to Silva who was in support and the Spaniard drew Foster and delightfully chipped his effort over the goalkeeper. It dropped neatly into the back of the net and, with just over an hour played, City had won the game.
With ten minutes to play, Nasri was caught by Andrews and left limping by a badly mistimed challenge. It set off a war of words between the two players, but the Frenchman tried to let his football do the talking, as he was inches away from picking out Edin Dzeko in the box, unmarked at the back post.
As the final whistle blew, City’s fans waited to hear confirmation of the final score at the DW Stadium. It seemed like an age coming, but Wigan had won and City had closed the gap at the top of the league back to five points. The question is: Is it too late for the blues’ title bid or will United drop points again this season?