EPL: Errant red helps Manchester City close on Chelsea
Manchester City responded to their Champions League exit with a routine 3-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday that maintained the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Manchester: Manchester City responded to their Champions League exit with a routine 3-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday that maintained the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Wilfried Bony, Fernando and David Silva were on target for the champions -- bundled out of the Champions League by an irresistible Barcelona on Wednesday -- but the game was more memorable for a case of mistaken identity that meant West Brom played all but one and a half minutes of the match with 10 men.
The game was as good as decided after 65 seconds, when Bony was brought down on the edge of the penalty area, setting into motion the chain of events that saw Albion defender Gareth McAuley incorrectly dismissed.
Bony had been fouled by Craig Dawson and, as he stumbled goalwards, was also involved in a collision with McAuley. Referee Neil Swarbrick blew for the initial foul, but inexplicably showed a red card to McAuley.
Swarbrick confirmed to broadcaster BT Sport at half-time that he had dismissed the wrong player, but by then the damage was done.
West Brom had collected just five points on their travels in the previous five months and two City goals before the half-time break guaranteed that there would be no improvement in their away record.
After 26 minutes, patient build-up on the edge of the Albion penalty area ended with Fernando`s pass being deflected into the path of Bony.
The Ivorian striker skilfully brought the ball under control before steering it high past Boaz Myhill for his first City goal since signing from Swansea City.
Then, five minutes before the interval, after a Jesus Navas corner was helped on by Vincent Kompany, Jonas Olsson and Myhill failed to clear and Fernando pushed the loose ball over the line.
The only surprise was the City had not scored more during a period in which West Brom scarcely crossed the halfway line, with nine of their remaining 10 players permanently encamped in their own area.Sergio Aguero and Frank Lampard shot off target, while Myhill saved from Silva, three times, and Navas before the half was out.
The flow of one-way traffic was even more pronounced upon the resumption of play as Myhill -- deputising for the injured Ben Foster -- saved well from Bony, Aguero and Silva inside the opening 10 minutes.
The visiting goalkeeper was particularly impressive in sticking out a boot to repel Aguero`s low, near-post shot after more trickery from the Argentina forward inside the West Brom area.
But Myhill required the help of his woodwork on 58 minutes when Aguero`s left-foot strike cannoned against the far post before the ball flew to Bony, whose 18-yard shot thundered against the crossbar.
City substitute Stevan Jovetic continued the theme of City profligacy by shooting wide and West Brom threatened to take advantage when they almost scored with their first meaningful attack in the 72nd minute.
Olsson flicked on a right-wing corner for highly-rated forward Saido Berahino, who headed against the bar from close range.
The rebound fell to former City defender Joleon Lescott, but he could only head well over from six yards.
The missed opportunity removed any lingering thoughts of a West Brom comeback and five minutes later, City claimed the third goal their total dominance merited.
Gael Clichy pulled the ball back for Jovetic on the edge of the area. His shot looked to be drifting wide of the left-hand post, but Silva stuck out a boot to divert the ball past Myhill from six yards.