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.