City produced some blistering football to sweep aside West Brom at the Etihad and confirm the title race is far from over.
Two goals in the first ten minutes from Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero provided the platform for a 3-1 victory with Martin Demichelis completing the scoring (and an Argentine hat-trick of scorers) to leave the Blues six points off the top.
The evening was soured, however, by the sight of David Silva, superb throughout, stretchered off with an ankle injury that will be assessed by the Club’s medical team over the next few days.
You could have been forgiven for thinking the battle for the Premier League trophy was done and dusted if you sifted through the Monday morning papers and it’s a fact that Liverpool are very much in the driving seat – but on tonight’s evidence, City will be lying in wait should the Merseysiders slip-up.
The Blues were back to their sparkling best against West Brom and the team that swept aside so many opponents earlier in the season with wave after wave of inventive and incisive attacking returned to dismantle Pepe Mel’s struggling side with some breath-taking football
...City 3 WBA 1
The Baggies must have shuddered when they saw Silva’s name in the starting line-up – the Spaniard, still carrying a long-standing ankle injury, has become almost indispensible to the Blues and was sorely missed against Sunderland on Wednesday - and worse still for West Brom, Aguero looked back to his razor-sharp best, too.
It took just three minutes for City to break down the visitors’ resistance with Samir Nasri’s cross only partially cleared to Aguero who sent a powerful drive towards goal that Ben Foster palmed out – but Zabaleta was first to the rebound and his header beat the keeper and a defender on the line on its way into the net.
Albion were unfortunate not to claim an equaliser shortly after as a Matej Vydra effort was ruled out for offside – though TV replays suggested it was marginal to say the least.
City increased the visitors’ woes by doubling the lead three minutes later as Aguero’s snap-shot from 20 yards beat Foster’s dive to send an already noisy Etihad Stadium into raptures and led to chants of “We’re Man City, we’ll fight till the end!”
Surely the floodgates had now been well and truly swung open? What wasn’t in the script was a goal for West Brom but when Zabaleta uncharacteristically lost possession deep in the Baggies half, the ball eventually found its way to Graham Dorrans who, after cleverly juggling himself some space, drilled the ball past Joe Hart from the edge of the box.
It was end-to-end and breathless entertainment. The goal seemed to halt the Blues in their tracks, or perhaps it was just both teams regrouping before going again – in City’s case, it proved the latter as Demichelis restored the two-goal cushion with his customary tap-in from two yards following a Nasri corner and Vincent Kompany flick-on to make it 3-1.
The skipper then prevented Stephane Sessegnon from again pegging the Blues back as the Belgian’s lunge deflected what looked a certain goal inches over the bar as the half finally came to an end – but there was the promise of more goals in what was proving a wonderfully open encounter.
As it was, the second-half was a cagier affair with West Brom giving as good as they got, but the injury to Silva seemed to knock City out of their stride and despite one or two close calls at either end, the majority of the hard work had all been done in that exciting first 45.
The fight for the title continues with yet another huge weekend beckoning the top three sides - and City are still very much in the mix...