Albion fans should’ve known it’d be a long night after severe traffic around The Hawthorns and motorway island put West Bromwich to a stand-still.
Steve Clarke made three changes to the side which lost to Newcastle with Claudio Yacob and Steven Reid recalled. Saido Berahino started for the first time since signing his new contract.
Surprisingly, Stephane Sessegnon was dropped to the bench as Clarke adopted a 4-5-1 formation with James Morrison and Chris Brunt supporting Shane Long.
It was obvious that Albion’s gameplan was one of containment. The flat five man midfield were happy to allow City’s backline to have possession. The aim was to win the ball and help out the back four.
The plan was undone 9 minutes in. City worked the ball well down Albion’s left. Ridgewell was left isolated by the forward-thinking Berahino allowing Pablo Zabaleta to get to the byline and pull the ball back for Sergio Aguero to smash home.
It was a lovely flowing move by the visitor’s but highlighted Ridgewell’s lack of athleticism. Too often this season he’s been caught out by quick one-twos allowing his winger to get beyond him.
Albion were struggling to get any foothold in the game but had the next effort on goal. Berahino drifted in field but his 25-yard effort was always curling wide.
Back came City – who scored their second of the night in similar fashion to their first. Reid, again left isolated by Amalfitano allowed Kolarov to pull the ball back for Yaya Toure to side-foot home.
It looked like it could be a long night. But, thankfully for Albion, City realised they were in full control and took their foot off the gas. The only time that Albion got behind City in the first half, Brunt pulled the ball back for Long – who was surrounded by defenders. It was a strange decision by Albion’s captain when a shot was more logical.
After the break
Clarke decided to stick with the XI which had battled hard, but were outclassed in the first half. City again looked to be coasting, and were lucky not to concede a penalty after the break. Long did well to wriggle into the area before being brought down by Kolarov. Initially it looked like the City man had won the ball, but replays show Long was bundled down. Referee Chris Foy waved away Albion’s appeals.
Zoltan Gera made a welcome return to The Hawthorns as a substitute on the hour mark as Clarke brought him and Victor Anichebe on. But it made little difference. Claudo Yacob tripped the galloping Kolarov in the area allowing Toure to make it three from the spot. Game over.
Albion continued to battle and Berahino twice went close with efforts from the left. The Baggies did pull one back in the 86th minute when good work between Berahino and sub Vydra saw Kolarov fire the ball into his own net after a failed clearance.
Four minutes into stoppage time Victor Anichebe scored his first Albion goal in front of an emptying Hawthorns. Vydra rolled the ball into the big forward, who turned his man brilliantly before firing home. Seconds later, the final whistle went.
Despite City only winning once away from home this season, they were in no mood to exit the Black Country without all three points. They were excellent from kick off and Albion were unable to handle their movement. Albion’s frailties in both full back positions were highlighted by the first two goals. The third was another clumsy tackle in the area by an Albion midfielder.
The ‘comeback’ – if you can call it that, was too little, too late. And, in all honesty, flattered Albion on a night when City showed their title-ambition credentials.
Albion must now aim to get something against Norwich to prevent three-straight defeats and, more importantly, being dragged towards the relegation zone.
COME ON YOU BAGGIES
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