West Brom vs Manchester City: Match Report

In terms of the Premier League’s most comfortable ever wins, this game has to be up there.

West Brom were, quite simply, outplayed. Not slightly second best, not even distinctly second best. Just completely played off the park by a team who, amazingly, lead the Premier League for the first time all season.

Ilkay Gundogan scored twice, while Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling all netted once before even an hour had been played, with the game then petering out as City declared at five.

It might sound strange, but there was a real possibility the game could have gone differently even before Gundogan’s 6th minute opener.

A long throw into the City box saw Jake Livermore’s shot blocked by Oleksandr Zinchenko, with the ball rebounding to Semi Ajayi with Ederson to beat on the angle of the six yard box. The Brazilian did well to smother the effort, and West Brom’s best chance passed them by.

Straight up the other end, and Bernardo Silva found Phil Foden bearing in on goal down the left channel. The youngster’s attempt took a slight deflection, with Sam Johnstone making an excellent save to tip the shot onto the post.

The opener, however, was not far away.

A great whipped pass by Cancelo found Gundogan in the D of the area. As Ajayi stretched to block the shot, the German cleverly whipped the ball behind the defender, leaving Johnstone motionless as the ball nestled into his left corner.

City took complete control of the game from that point, but the second goal will leave the Baggies feeling aggrieved.

When Silva was played in down the right channel, lineswoman Sian Massey-Ellis for some reason waited to flag the winger offside only after he had cut inside. Several West Brom players appeared to stop as the ball was switched to Cancelo, who opened his body and simply passed the ball into the top corner courtesy of the bar.

A quick VAR check saw that Silva was clearly onside, with the goal being given. It was a baffling error by the official, as City were clearly in a good goalscoring position at the time.

Gundogan was running the show, so when a bizarre sequence of defensive headers resulted in loose chest control by Romaine Sawyers on the edge of his box, it was no surprise that it was Gundogan who stole the ball. After effortlessly gliding past Dara O’Shea, he easily slotted into the bottom corner for three and end the game there and then.

With under 30 minutes gone, there was a chance brackets would be required by the end.

City were continuously getting into shooting positions inside the box, with several last-gasp blocks saving the Baggies from further punishment. It seemed a case of when, not if, City made it four.

As it turned out, the when was 45+2 minutes.

Sterling switched the ball to Mahrez, with Kieran Gibbs the defender in charge of keeping him off his left foot.

Kieran Gibbs, unwisely, allowed Mahrez to cut inside onto his left foot. Mahrez, unerringly, hammered the ball into the far top corner.

It was truly shambolic defending, but brilliant from the visitors.

Half time: West Brom 0-4 Manchester City

Any dreams of a 4-4 from a West Brom viewpoint lasted precisely 12 minutes. In fairness, this was a goal that any team in the world would have found difficult to stop.

After another wave of incessant City pressure was repelled, a beautiful diagonal ball found Mahrez in on goal. The Algerian unselfishly squared it across the six yard box to Sterling, who was all alone to tap home number five.

By this point, Mahrez had already seen a shot cleared off the line by Kyle Bartley and Rodri had hit the bar. It might have been 0-5, but 0-8 would not have been a surprise.

Perhaps with eyes on the punishing schedule ahead, City then made changes and turned the match into a training exercise. Rather than pile on the misery, they simply increased their possession statistic to a slightly ridiculous 78%, with Ederson having absolutely nothing to do from the second minute onwards.

City were left looking down on the rest of the league at fulltime, perhaps temporarily with other games to be played tomorrow, while West Brom languish in 19th place. However, with five of their next seven against the teams around them, that is where their fate will be decided.

Full time: West Brom 0-5 Manchester City

Man of the Match: Ilkay Gundogan

He was off before the hour mark, but it would be unfair not to give him this accolade. The way he ran the game was a joy to watch, and the fact that he is in almost as potent goalscoring form as his old teammate Robert Lewandowski is something that very few would have predicted.

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