Manchester City 3 West Bromwich Albion 1

FA Premier League
Monday 21 April 2014, 20.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Garcia, Fernandinho Nasri, Silva (Milner 70), Dzeko (Kolarov 89), Aguero (Jovetic 64)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Negredo
Goals: Zabaleta (3), Aguero (10), Demichelis (36)
Booked: Demichelis

Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: Javi Garcia

Dzeko and Ridgewell challenge for the ball.

Dzeko and Ridgewell challenge for the ball.

Manchester City bounced back from disappointing results against Liverpool and Sunderland with a comfortable win over West Brom – though the fans will be leaving disappointed that it finished at just 3-1, given how dominant the Blues had been and, should Chelsea beat Liverpool in their coming game, goal difference could be a factor in the title race. City still need favours from elsewhere – but they went about their business just in case of a slip up from their opponents.

It started brightly and, just as with their last match, the hosts took the lead very early on. Aguero latched on to a short clearance and, having taken a touch to control, he volleyed at goal. Foster pushed it away well, but Zabaleta was following in to head home the rebound.

It got better just a few minutes later. Criticism of the week before when the Blues failed to capitalise on their lead and took their foot off the gas was gone – as Aguero doubled the advantage. He picked up the ball on the left side of the box, jinked inside and belted it into Foster’s bottom corner. City were in full control.

However, a botched free kick gave the visitors the chance to break. Fernandinho and Silva dallied over a routine that could have come from the hotel bar rather than the training ground and West Brom stole in to break – and Dorrans scored a brilliant volley with one of the best counter attacks of the campaign.

Ten minutes before the break, though, and the hosts’ two-goal advantage was restored. Nasri’s corner to the front post was flicked across the face of goal where Demichelis was able to adjust his feet to redirect it into the net – completing City’s trio of Argentine scorers, but also completing the scoring for the evening.

Pellegrini will be hoping that the decision to ease off and control possession instead of making goals the priority doesn’t come back to haunt his side – especially as a block from Kompany on a shot from eight yards left Hart stranded, but the defection took it over and onto the roof of the net.

The second half was dominated by the home side, but with very little penetration. Silva slipped Zabaleta in cutely down the right, but his low cross to the front post was cut out brilliantly before Nasri could arrive to turn it into the net.

With 20 minutes to play there was a blow for the home side. Silva – who had, once more been the architect of everything City had done well offensively and who had only just returned from injury – went down after a collision with Jones and Amalfitano and didn’t get back up. He needed the stretcher to leave the field with what looked like another ankle injury.

For the remainder of the game there was plenty of huffing and puffing, but little in the way of action. Hart was down well to block Amalfitano’s effort as it came at him suddenly past Anichebe, while Dzeko and Jovetic both fired wide after some near build-up at the other end. Milner also went close after Nasri played him in, but his low drive from a tight angle was well blocked by Foster.

While the most importing thing for City was to get the win, the Blues will be disappointed not to capitalise on their early dominance.

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West Bromwich Albion 2 Manchester City 3

FA Premier League
Wednesday 4 December 2013, 20.15 KO

City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure (Rodwell 88), Navas, Nasri (Garcia 76), Aguero (Milner 69), Dzeko
Unused: Hart, Lescott, Richards, Negredo
Goals: Aguero (8), Toure (24, pen 74)
Booked: Pantilimon

Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero

Toure steals the ball.

Toure steals the ball.

City were out of the traps quickly in an attempt to better their away form and it was the visitors who opened the scoring. Some good work by Dzeko allowed Zabaleta to get in behind the West Brom defence and there the Argentine found his international teammate Aguero, who finished with a great side-foot effort.

West Brom tried to respond with two quick shots, but both were wide of Pantilimon’s goal, before Aguero had the chance to double the Blues’ lead. Dzeko brought the ball down on the edge of the box from a Kolarov chip into the middle and laid it off for his strike partner. The Argentine took a touch and tried to curl it inside the near post, but it was just wide.

However, some more brilliant passing from the visitors added the second. Kolarov played a beautiful low cross into the box and found Toure unmarked on the corner of the six-yard box. He opened his body up and nudged the ball across goal and into the bottom corner with his first touch.

With 33 minutes on the clock, City could – arguably should – have been out of sight. Dzeko was inches away from touching a great cross from Kolarov at the back post, before Aguero had an effort flicked around the post by Myhill. From the resulting corner, Dzeko had a free header from the edge of the six-yard box, but missed the target, before Fernandinho volleyed well over from 18-yards, despite having time and space.

Five minutes into the second half, Long went down in the box under a challenge from Kolarov and the referee waved away his protests, turning down the penalty appeals. It was a good decision, but City were lucky – as the striker had got in too easily.

As the hour mark approached, the home side had grown into the game, but were still yet to properly test Pantilimon. Several shots from range skewed over and wide, as Morrison and Amalfitano tried their luck from outside the box – none found the target.

With 74 minutes on the clock, Kolarov burst into the box on an overlapping run and, having nicked the ball past the defender, was tripped and the referee pointed to the spot. Toure stepped up – with Aguero having been substituted – and sent Myhill the wrong way to add City’s third.

Eight minutes later, West Brom had a great chance to pull a goal back. Demichelis and Kompany shut the door in the centre as Vydra tried to get through, but it deflected to Berahino. He shot, but it flicked off Zabaleta and looped over the crossbar.

The hosts did then open their tally with six minutes to play in a very bizarre fashion. Pantilimon stretched for a low cross from the by-line, but he couldn’t reach it and it fell to Kolarov at the back post. His clearance ricocheted back off his own goalkeeper and into the net, to reduce the deficit.

With just twenty seconds of the game left, West Brom added a second. Slack defending from City was to blame, as Demichelis got too tight to Anichebe, who spun the defender to get one-on-one with Pantilimon. There he belted it at the bottom corner and beat the goalkeeper. It was careless from City.

It was a close result, but nothing like a close game. A win away from home was welcome, but the two late goals are still a concern.

Manchester City 1 West Bromwich Albion 0

FA Premier League
Tuesday 7 May 2013, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Richards (c), K Toure, Lescott, Kolarov, Milner, Rodwell (Maicon 75), Garcia, Nasri (Barry 73), Tevez (Razak 90), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Nastasic, Silva, Aguero
Goals: Dzeko (34)
Booked: Kolarov, Nasri

Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: Micah Richards

WBA1It was a frantic start to the game, with both sides pushing to take the early advantage. Richards came back into the starting line up and announced it with a trademark run down the right. Lukaku smashed a shot just wide of the post, with Hart at full stretch, before the England keeper was alert to stop a powerful header from the Belgian.

With 20 minutes played, City came alive and began to take the game to the visitors. Myhill spilt a cross from the left straight to the feet of Rodwell, but the midfielder couldn’t adjust quickly enough and missed the target with his effort. Kolarov was then perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch, as he came close to decapitating Tamas… okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but his foot was high and the Albion man ducked into the header causing a collision. The referee showed leniency and showed a yellow card.

City stepped it up: Tevez curled an effort over the bar from the edge of the box, before Milner smashed an effort wide as it broke to him in the box. Rodwell then missed his kick as Kolarov’s cross bounced to him inside the area and, from the very same move, the ball found Tevez on the edge of the box and he smashed a shot into the crossbar.

And as the hosts had got on top, they went on to take the lead. Tevez broke down the right flank and found a cross to Dzeko arriving in the area. It was just behind the Bosnian, who adjusted to side-foot volley at goal. It beat the defender and Myhill got a touch, but he couldn’t keep it out and the home side made their pressure pay.

As half time approached, Rodwell had a shot deflected wide that left the goalkeeper rooted, before Milner struck the foot of the post from long range, as the home side looked to double their advantage. The half came to a close with City pressure and the blues deserved to be in the lead.

WBA2However, the second half was a different story: It started when Rosenburg smashed a free kick into the crossbar with the goalkeeper nowhere near it and, from the rebound, Hart made a brilliant save to scoop the ball away from the line, as Jones tried to force it into the net. Hart was in action shortly after, tipping Morrison’s low drive around the post, before Kolo Toure blocked from Lukaku, as West Brom countered.

There was some relief for the home defence on the hour mark, as the hosts should have scored their second goal of the night. Dzeko fired in a shot that was blocked, after receiving a low ball into the box. Tevez tried a shot from the rebound, which was again blocked on the line, before it was crossed to Rodwell at the back post, but his volley was pushed behind by Myhill.

With ten minutes to play, Long escaped Lescott’s attention and fired in a shot, but it was inches wide of the post. Maicon then unleashed an effort from the edge of the six-yard box, as he tried to smash an outside-of-the-foot shot towards the top corner. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but the fans saw the funny side as the second tier of the North Stand took the brunt of the shot.

It became end-to-end for the final few minutes, as Odemwingie fired over from just inside the box, before Milner picked out the gloves of Myhill as City looked to secure the points. Barry also had an effort from the edge of the box easily collected by the goalkeeper, following a bursting forward run by Maicon.

City held out, though, and secured Champions League football for the third season running.

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.

Manchester City 4 West Brom 0

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)
Booked:

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?

West Brom 0 Manchester City 0

English Premier League
Monday 26 December 2011, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, K Toure, Kompany (c), Clichy, Y Toure, Milner (Dzeko 83), Silva, Nasri (Barry 59), Balotelli, Aguero (A Johnson 75)
Unused: Pantilimon, Savic, Lescott, de Jong
Goals:
Booked: Yaya Toure

Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: Mario Balotelli

Early possession in this season’s Boxing Day fixture was dominated by the visitors, but it was the home side who had the first chance: Odemwingie found Brunt on the edge of the box and he turned neatly to shoot first time. Hart had it covered, but it flashed just wide of the post and gave City an early scare.

Aguero was set free soon after down the left flank by Nasri and his low cross towards Balotelli was cut out by the West Brom defence, before the same man crossed for Milner to head, but the midfielder’s effort was wide of the back post. Silva was blocked off in the box and the rebound fell to Nasri on the edge of the box, volleying towards the near post, but Foster manager to get his body behind it and hold on to the ball.

West Brom had the next effort on goal, coming from range through Scharner. The midfielder wasn’t closed down outside the City box and he got his shot in at the near post. Hart got down well to push it behind. City should have then taken the led as Aguero found Silva on the penalty spot and, with the shot on, he somehow scooped it over the bar, when he should have made Foster pick the ball out of the net.

A deflected Balotelli free kick almost found the net, with Foster rooted to his line, but the ball trickled wide of the post. A succession of corners for the visitors then finished with Yaya Toure being taken by surprised by the ball reaching him at the near post and he couldn’t convert. Instead, it struck him and bounced behind. Balotelli then curled an effort from the edge of the box, looking for the far post, but Foster got behind it, as the away side began to turn up the heat.

The Italian did have the ball in the net on 34 minutes, but the linesman’s flag was up for offside. Silva had a shot from the edge of the box and it looped up off the defender, landing to Balotelli, who volleyed neatly into the net. But it wouldn’t count, Aguero flagged off as he challenged the initial ball in. At the other end, Kompany put in a great interception to cut out a ball across the box towards Long.

Odemwingie caught Balotelli with an elbow on the edge of the box, but there didn’t appear to be too much in it, as the two strikers collided. Balotelli had laid the ball off and tried to go one way, with the West Brom man trying to get out of the way. Milner had the chance to look for a red and black shirt in the box just before half time, but his low cross was cut out – City had had the possession, but West Brom were defending stoutly and not giving the visitors much room to manoeuvre.

The early second half possession was West Brom’s, but it was Balotelli who forced his way into the box down the by-line and his low cross was cut out before it could reach Aguero or Nasri in the middle. Milner’s cross to the back post was then overhit and drifted behind. Balotelli had a go out of the blue from the edge of the box, beat Foster, but didn’t beat the bar. It clipped the frame of the goal and ended up in the fans.

It was the home side who should have taken the lead on 56 minutes, as the ball landed to Shane Long unmarked in the City box. His header, though, didn’t make Hart work, as he nodded it wide of the post, after he’d escaped the attention of Kolo Toure.

A neat City move resulted in Silva taking a shot from just inside the box, after he’d found Yaya Toure and Aguero on the 18-yard line. It wasn’t too much trouble for Foster, however, and he was able to hold the shot. McAuley then denied Aguero with a great challenge on the penalty spot, as the Argentine had beaten the offside trap.

On 72 minutes, West Brom could have taken the lead. A ball into the box was cleared as far as Thomas who hit the shot first time and it smashed into the foot of the post and bounced clear. Hart threw himself at it, but he wouldn’t have had it covered had it been on target. It was a let off for the visitors, who were struggling to create any clear cut chances of their own.

City began to step up on the possession front, but were still struggling to create anything of note against a well organised home defence. Yaya Toure had an effort from the left side of the box, but it was another easy stop for Foster. Silva’s shot from the edge of the box was then blocked by Olsson. The late pressure almost paid off for City, as Balotelli spun in the box and won a corner, before Dzeko headed the flag kick wide at the back post.

It turned out to be the last chance for City to take the game, and it was the stubborn defence of West Brom that came out on top. The home side by no means parked the bus, but City just couldn’t break them down – City will be top of the league still, but United’s big victory over Wigan leaves them level and will have dented the goal difference.

Manchester City 3 West Brom 0

Barclay’s Premier League
Saturday 5 February 2011, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Boateng, Kompany, K Touré, Kolarov, Milner, Barry, Silva (Razak 90), Y Touré (Dzeko 64), Tevez (c) (Wright-Phillips 87)
Unused: Given, Lescott, Vieira, Jo
Goals: Tevez (pen 17, 22, pen 41)
Booked: Zabaleta

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez

In a strange Premier League day where this turned out to be one of the lowest scoring games, City were out to recaptured some good form before the Manchester derby. And it started well for the home side, with Tevez hitting the post and Barry firing a cross past the face of goal, but nobody could get a touch, and a home corner came to nothing.

West Brom got their first chance on goal after a foul by Kompany right on the edge of the box. Brunt whipped the kick around the wall and Hart pulled off a good save to push it well away from the goal. Hart was in action again shortly after to touch a volley from the edge of the box wide of the post and then to knock an Olsson header over the bar.

But, just as the visitors were getting into their game, they shot themselves in the foot. A nice ball from Tevez let Kolarov, who had stepped up to left midfield for this match, turn in the box and he was brought down by Reid for a certain penalty. Tevez stepped up and, having missed his previous two, showed no pressure as he sent the keeper the wrong way.

Four minutes later, it got better for the birthday boy. Tevez played a neat one-two with Silva after having beaten two West Brom defenders and found himself through on goal. He slowed it down, composed himself and slipped the ball past Myhill and doubled his personal tally for the day.

Olsson was then needed to put in a last ditch challenge on Tevez to prevent his hat-trick, before Kolarov decided against the intricate build-up that City had been playing and fired in a ferocious effort from 30 yards that needed fingertips from Myhill to touch it onto the bar.

Silva was then just onside and he had his shot saved by the goalkeeper’s legs, as City began to turn the screw. Tevez then got another chance for his hat-trick, after a handball into the box and the Argentinean smashed the penalty into the box.

Tevez could then have made it four for City and for himself as he slid the ball just wide of the post with Myhill beaten and Silva was inches from getting a vital touch. Hart was in action again soon after as the half approached, pushing away Morrison’s effort to keep the three goal lead of the break.

West Brom tried their luck early in the second half, with an effort from Odemwingie, but it wasn’t troubling Joe Hart. The visitors started the half the better, but City were comfortable dealing with their aerial threat through Kompany and Touré and the home side kept possession well.

As the hour approached, City won themselves a corner and it was flicked to Kolo Touré at the back post. After a moment of trickery, he took on a left footed shot that was deflected wide, when his centre-back partner Kompany was in a good position for a lay-off.

The visitors should have pulled a goal back on 62 minutes, as Fortune found himself clean through on goal after some shocking defending from City. His shot beat Joe Hart, but it was into the side netting and City were off the hook.

Odemwingie then missed the target with a shot before Shorey forced Hart into another good save from a free kick on the edge of the box. City had taken their foot off the gas and were struggling to get any sort of attack going, as the goals were flying in everywhere else in the Premier League.

With just over ten minutes to play, Tevez should have had his fourth after the ball broke to Barry at the back post. He dragged Myhill out of position before rolling it sideways to Tevez, but the man on form scooped the ball over the bar when faced with an open goal.

Dzeko couldn’t stretch far enough to knock a Milner cross into the net, before he had an effort deflected into the keeper’s hands and shot one clean at goal, but that was also straight at Myhill. Wright-Phillips almost made it four in stoppage time after a brilliant run from his own half and an effort to match, but it was pushed to safety by the goalkeeper.

The game ended with some City pressure, but no goal was forthcoming and it turned out that City would be the only Premier League side to keep a clean sheet – not too bad for a team with recent defensive problems.

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