Edin Dzeko comes in to vanquish Manuel Pellegrini’s travelling blues
Manchester City find sharpeness away at West Brom
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero (R) scores a goal against West Bromwich Albion during their English Premier League match at the Hawthorns. Photograph: Reuters.
West Brom 2 Manchester City 3
The hope will be that a sizeable monkey is off Manchester City’s back with what is only their second away win of the campaign. With Vincent Kompany completing his first 90 minutes since early October due to a thigh injury this was a satisfying evening for the manager, Manuel Pellegrini.
Before coasting to the three points against a largely insipid West Bromwich Albion the record away from home was four defeats and a draw to go with the single win, the 3-1 win at West Ham United in October.
Delays on the M6 meant this 15th game of the campaign for each side began a quarter of an hour late. The surprise team news came in Pellegrini’s decision not to start with Alvaro Negredo, the Spaniard who is flying through a debut season for City, having accrued 15 goals so far.
It was his replacement Edin Dzeko who proved the key linkman in City’s opener. It came only nine minutes in and was created when the forward slid the ball to Pablo Zabaleta and the right-back pulled it back for Sergio Aguero to slot an outstanding 17th in 18 appearances past a helpless Boaz Myhill. Kompany lined up alongside Martin Demichelis with the two central defenders the eighth differing partnership fielded by Manuel Pellegrini in the competition so far.
Aguero again shredded the opposing defence when latching onto a Dzeko layoff: his shot fizzed marginally wide to serve as a further warning to Steve Clarke’s side.
City’s second arrived on 24 minutes and was the latest illustration of the fast and thrilling play that can be the division’s most attractive.
Aguero, this time, began the move. He passed to the rejuvenated Samir Nasri who pin-balled possession onto Aleksandar Kolorov. The left-back weighted a perfect delivery for Yaya Toure and he made it 2-0.
Given the travails on their travels and despite City’s domination the sense was that a third was still required to seal the result. Dzeko might have done so from a corner but his header, directed backwards as he faced away from the goal, failed to test Myhill.
During the opening stanza any threat Clarke’s team carried came from aiming direct balls in on Costel Pantilimon’s goal. Only once did this concern the visiting defence – when Zabaleta dallied in the area but a cool touch allowed him and Kompany to clear the danger. Still, as the half drew to a close, these were signs that the Baggies were awakening.
Pellegrini might have reminded his men of how they had been coasting at Cardiff City but had allowed two soft goals to lose that one 3-2 in their opening away game.
West Brom began like they believed and gave City a scare when Chris Foy turned down a penalty appeal after Shane Long went down following a coming together with Kompany. Moments later, Long again fell in the area when Demichelis challenged him but this was less of a close call.
It was, in fact, Toure who scored from the spot, his penalty following Claudio Yacob’s foul on Kolarov, confirming the win. There was a consolation for West Brom when Kolarov’s clearance rebounded off Pantilimon and in.
West Brom: Myhill, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Morrison (Gera 64),Yacob, Amalfitano (Vydra 76), Brunt, Berahino, Long (Anichebe 65). Subs Not Used: Popov, Lugano, Daniels, Sessegnon. Booked: Olsson. Goals: Pantilimon 85 og, Anichebe 90.
Man City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Toure (Rodwell 88), Nasri (Javi Garcia 77), Dzeko, Aguero (Milner 69). Subs Not Used: Hart, Richards, Lescott, Negredo. Booked: Pantilimon. Goals: Aguero 9, Toure 24, 74 pen.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).