By Michael Hincks | Skysports |
Manchester City moved 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League after cruising to a 3-0 victory over basement-club West Brom.
Fernandinho was the unlikely scorer of City’s first goal, latching onto Kevin De Bruyne’s pass to put the hosts ahead in the 19th minute.
De Bruyne started and finished off a move after the break (68), while Sergio Aguero added a third late on (89) for his 17th league goal of the season.
City increased their gap at the top after Manchester United lost 2-0 at Tottenham, while struggling West Brom are now four points from safety.
Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (7), Laporte (6), Otamendi (6), Zinchenko (7), Fernandinho (8), D.Silva (6), B.Silva (8), Sterling (7), De Bruyne (8), Aguero (7)
Subs: Gundogan (6), Diaz (7)
West Brom: Foster (8), McAuley (6), Hegazi (6), Dawson (6), Nyom (6), Field (6), Yacob (6), Krychowiak (6), McClean (5), Rodriguez (5) Rondon (5)
Subs: Barry (6), Phillips (6), Sturridge (6)
Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne
City’s opener came through a familiar source as De Bruyne played a perfectly-weighted ball for Fernandinho, who made the most of his rare venture forward when sliding the ball through Ben Foster’s legs.
The hosts could have had more before the break, but Foster denied De Bruyne on two occasions, while the Belgian also skimmed the bar with a long-range attempt.
The only negative for City in the first half was the injury to David Silva, who was forced off after a challenge with Sam Field and replaced by Ilkay Gundogan.
Aymeric Laporte made his Manchester City debut with John Stones feeling unwell. For West Brom, Arsenal target Jonny Evans was ruled out with a hamstring injury, while new loan signing Daniel Sturridge was named on the bench.
After the break, Raheem Sterling fired just wide of the top corner, prompting Pep Guardiola to urge the winger to the sidelines for a reassuring hug and kiss
Moments after Foster superbly denied Bernardo Silva, City moved two clear thanks to De Bruyne, who evaded James McClean’s attempt to bring him down before latching onto Sterling’s return pass.
And just days after a poor tackle ruled Leroy Sane out for six weeks, Guardiola was baffled to see Matt Phillips escape with a yellow for a dangerously high challenge on Brahim Diaz.
Daniel Sturridge almost had a debut goal for the visitors after coming off the bench late on, but Kyle Walker was on hand to deny the forward before he played a follow-up attempt into the side-netting.
Aguero had the final say of the evening, taking Sterling’s pass in his stride before calmly dinking the ball over Foster from a narrow angle.
- Manchester City scored their 100th goal in 38 games in all competitions this season (now 101) – they’ve reached this figure in each of their last five campaigns, only doing so quicker in this time in 2013-14 (34 games).
- Man City have won their last 13 league games in a row against West Brom, their longest such run against a single opponent in their history.
- Indeed, this is also West Brom’s longest losing streak against a single team in their league history.
- Kevin De Bruyne provided his 38th league assist since his Man City debut in September 2015, at least four more than any other player in Europe’s big five leagues (Lionel Messi, Neymar and Mesut Ozil with 34).
Man of the match – Kevin De Bruyne
One goal for the brilliant Belgian, and he’ll know he could have scored more, having seen three attempts saved by Foster.
De Bruyne proved why he is the front-runner to take all the individual accolades this season, assisting Fernandinho, and stepping up to take control of the game in midfield after David Silva went off injured.
Pep Guardiola (on West Brom’s tackles): “I have an opinion. The referees have another one. So they are the bosses, they have to take a decision. I said what I said in terms of the players’ protection. I can say it every day, and today we were lucky.
“It was good. We can talk and I appreciate Kevin because he came and tried to explain to me his point of view.
“He does not say, ‘Go out’, you know? That’s why I appreciate it. I did not agree, he knows that, but it’s okay, they decide. It is what it is, no problem.”
Alan Pardew: “When the manager throws out that, ‘Protect out players’, I thought the crowd were acting over the top at times to what was some normal stuff on the pitch.
“James McClean was the only one that you would say was a bit naughty, but I don’t think he went to hurt him, he just tried to stop the attack.
“It was no tactical thing that we had on, it was just desperate at times, when you’re desperate, you make challenges. It’s part of the game.”
Manchester City are live on Sky Sports Premier League this Saturday as they travel to Burnley for the early kick-off. Meanwhile, West Brom play host to Southampton on Saturday at 3pm