City managed to grab only their first back to back Premier League wins since October as they saw off West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, although they were forced to work for the result. As I suggested, Samir Nasri was handed his first start since being injured in October, while Pellegrini made several other changes with an eye on the return clash against PSG, including changes at both full-backs and Fabian Delph coming into midfield. Wilfried Bony was also handed a start as Pellegrini opted for his preferred 4-4-2 attacking formation. Despite the attacking line-up, City found themselves under the cosh early on and were inexplicably 1-0 behind after only 6 minutes when Stéphane Sessegnon gave the visitors the lead. Kolarov failed to block the speculative effort from the edge of the box, and an unsighted Joe Hart completely failed to react as the ball flew beyond him at the near post, a goal that will have to go down as a goalkeeper error for me.
Thankfully the goal woke City up as they began to string some possession together, and it was no surprise when they found a way back into the game, after they were quite rightly awarded a penalty after Kolarov was felled in the box. The ref could have stopped the play sooner after Agüero was crudely brought down by Sandro, but allowing play to go on, he was left with no option but to blow up the second time after goalscorer Sessegnon brought down Kolarov in the area. Agüero, still looking slightly uneasy at the earlier tackle, picked himself up to deliver a confident spot kick beyond the outstretched reach of Ben Foster, who went the right way.
City began to dominate possession, but were largely limited to blocked shots as they failed to take an advantage into the break, while West Brom lost Salomón Rondón to injury, Craig Gardner taking his place. The second half continued in a similar manner, City creating few opportunities, and making several changes in personnel, but struggling to beat the well organised West Brom defensive line until a moment of brilliance from Kevin De Bruyne gave the hosts the lead. A sublime piece of skill and quick thinking pass picked out Navas in the box, who in turn was able to turn the ball over to Agüero. Some last ditch defending prevented the Argentinean claiming his second of the game, but in came the returning Nasri on the follow up to slot the ball home from close range.
Despite taking the lead, City seemed to dip in confidence, and West Brom were creating the better of the chances in the closing quarter, and should perhaps have drawn level right at the death when James McClean dragged his shot just wide of the post with everyone beaten. Thankfully for the City faithful, the hosts were able to hold on to final put to bed that absolutely embarrassing stat regarding back to back Premier League games. With the result interjected with the impressive and potentially valuable 2-2 draw away at Paris in the Champions League, all eyes will now be on the return leg on Tuesday evening to see if they can continue their recent improved form, and make history in qualifying for the Champions’ League semi-final for the first time in their history. Personally, I feel the away result gives them a great opportunity, but the outcome depends on which City turn up, and more importantly whether they can shake of the defensive frailties and the Champions League insecurities of recent seasons.
MOTM: Samir Nasri – the returning Frenchman seemed almost single-handedly intent on changing the game at times, and was duly rewarded when on hand to claim his goal. Added to his impressive work rate and passing stats, this game was a great advert for what City have been missing for so long.Share this: