West Bromwich Albion 1 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Saturday 20 October 2012, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, Milner, Barry (Dzeko 78), Nasri, Y Toure, Balotelli (Aguero 63), Tevez (Kolarov 82)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, K Toure, Sinclair
Goals: Dzeko (80, 90+2)
Booked: Balotelli, Tevez, Y Toure, Dzeko
Sent Off: Milner

Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the Match: Micah Richards

The opening exchanges started scrappily, but soon picked up pace. Lescott deflected an early Albion shot behind, but the referee awarded a goal kick, before Balotelli was tripped outside the area. Nasri’s effort on goal was deflected behind, as the visitors began to get control of possession. Some neat build-up down the right flank almost presented a shooting chance, but neither Tevez nor Toure could find the angle.

City were cranking up the pressure: Balotelli tried a solo run and shot, but Foster was able to collect it comfortably, before Milner nearly picked out Yaya Toure in the box with a cross from deep. Richards headed at goal from the resulting corner and, with it looking like it may just drop over the bar, Foster tipped it out to be sure. Tevez tried a volley from the penalty spot, after Balotelli picked him out from the left wing.

But with 22 minutes played, City put themselves in trouble. Kompany gave the ball away inside the West Brom half and let the home side break away. Milner was covering, but didn’t have the pace to keep up with Long and he dived in to win the ball. He missed it, denied the West Brom man a goal-scoring opportunity and was sent off. The free-kick hit the wall and City cleared the danger, but had to play the majority of the game a man light.

City struggled to settle following the red card: Hart was needed to come off his line as Long was through on goal, but the England keeper got a vital block and City were able to clear. The hosts were suddenly seeing more of the ball, sensing a way into the lead. Tevez broke into the Albion half and was bearing down on goal when he was brought down on the edge of the box: Balotelli hit the wall and, from the move off the rebound, Nasri could only find Foster’s gloves.

A superb run from Balotelli almost got the visitors in front. He picked up the ball on the left flank and beat three men on his way to the box. There, he worked his way into the six-yard box and shot, but Foster was equal to it, deflecting the ball away. He should have scored. Yaya Toure then had a shot deflected over the bar, before Barry chipped towards the back post, but it dropped wide.

City could have been in front in the opening minutes of the second half: Balotelli held the ball up well on the edge of the box before finding Tevez. The Argentine took a touch to control, before aiming for the top corner. It was heading in, until Foster got across to push the ball around the post. Clichy was then on the receiving end of a Balotelli ball across the box, but the Frenchman’s effort was blocked in front of goal.

A free kick on the left flank should then have had City in front just before the hour mark. Richards was left unmarked at the back post and he nodded the ball back across goal. The first effort on the cut-back was scuffed and Toure had the chance to head at goal from three yards, but he, somehow, headed over.

Fortune was booked for deliberate handball on the line of the penalty area, as he jumped and punched it away – City wanted a penalty, but the referee controversially ruled it was outside. Balotelli whipped the free kick over the bar. A flowing City move then nearly slotted Richards in, but he squared for Aguero, whose effort was deflected wide.

But, despite City’s resurgence in the game, Albion took the lead with a stroke of luck. Odemwingie had a shot from range that wasn’t troubling Joe Hart. But the fortune fell to Long, who had gambled in behind Lescott and, from an onside position, touched the ball into the bottom corner. It was against the run of play, but City were up against it.

Minutes after coming on as a substitute, Dzeko got the visitors level. Clichy was fouled on the left flank and, from deep, the cross was whipped into the middle of the box. Foster came for it, but Dzeko beat him to it and the ball hit the back of the empty net. It was a deserved equaliser for the away side.

City were pressing for a winner: Dzeko and Aguero combined well to allow the Argentine to get to the by-line, before Richards had a header cleared off the line from a corner. On the break, West Brom could have taken the lead through Lukaku, as he was free at the back post, but his shot was scuffed and Lescott cleared. Lukaku then headed straight at Joe Hart, unmarked in the area.

In stoppage time, Lukaku set himself up for an overhead kick inside the box and it needed a brilliant Hart save to tip it over the bar. From the corner, City broke away through Aguero. He bombed down the right flank from a Kolarov pass. He squared for Dzeko, who slid the ball into the bottom corner.

With seconds of the game remaining, Lukaku broke into the box and a spell of pinball followed. He couldn’t find room for the shot and it broke to Mulumbu, who was superbly dispossessed by Lescott and the visitors scrambled the ball away to preserve the last-gasp victory.

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