A fantastic win at the weekend against at home to Swansea made it two wins from two for Pellegrini’s men before the trip to the Hawthorns Wednesday. With a single away win in the League all season, all eyes were on the Blues as the Premier League starts to kick into the busy part of the season.
Returning to the fold for Manchester City was captain fantastic Vincent Kompany, who had been out through injury after limping out of the Everton match almost exactly two months ago. He replaced Joleon Lescott at the back, Aleksandar Kolarov replaced Gael Clichy, while Edin Dzeko was given the nod to start up front with Sergio Aguero for the only changes from the Swansea win.
The game was delayed for 15 minutes from the scheduled time due to traffic issues around the stadium, which included both teams arriving later than normal. For City fans though, it was worth the wait as all the questions about the team’s away form were blown away in the first 10 minutes. Nasri, Aguero and Dzeko all had chances to get goals before the little Argentinian did finally find the net.
Dzeko held up the ball beautifully before laying it off to Pablo Zabaleta. From the byline, the right back crossed to his fellow countryman and Aguero made no mistake to give Boaz Myhill no chance and City the 1-0 lead.
The visitors continued to dominate proceedings as they finally began to transfer their home ground performance away from the Etihad. Jesus Navas and Samir Nasri worked well on the wings as Manchester City continued to apply pressure. The wingers were complemented well with overlapping runs by Zabaleta on the right (provider of the first goal), and Aleksandar Kolarov on the left. Anything PabZab can do, Kolarov can do better, and with 20 minutes remaining in the half, City doubled the lead. A cross from Kolarov overlapping Nasri was converted by Yaya Toure to put City up 2-0. The Ivorian allowed the ball to go across his body before diverting it with his right foot, rather than swinging with the left, a sign of confidence from a guy who hasn’t scored any goal this season that hasn’t been beautiful.
Half time came and went with the visitors in control, and really not even having to find their highest gears. James Milner came on for Aguero with 20 minutes left, which left Toure to convert the penalty five minutes later after Kolarov was tripped by Claudio Yacob in the area. No doubting from Toure and 2-0 became 3-0, points secured.
At least that’s what you would have thought. All these years of supporting City, you would think nothing would surprise me, but what happened in the last five minutes certainly did. It all started when Costel Pantilimon was booked for time wasting, and I could understand if City was only 1-0 up and the Baggies were pressuring, but neither was the case. I am not sure if that had anything to do with the very next event, but West Bromwich managed to get a goal, assisted by Kolarov, and converted by Pantilimon. Up until that moment, the City back line looked solid, but in that moment, it looked like a routine more suited to a best of the Three Stooges DVD.
Even when West Brom scored a second in the last minute, I wasn’t worried that City would not win, just frustrated that the score line was not going to show the dominance. That said three points will do nicely, and now it is onto Southampton for, hopefully, three more points.