Manchester City 1 West Brom 0 match report: City call on their reserves to seal Champions League place

Edin Dzeko scored the only goal of the game

the Etihad Stadium

This was such a dead match that the players ought to have been accompanied on to the pitch by a hearse and a fly-past of dead parrots.

It did, however, resolve something; Manchester City are now guaranteed automatic qualification for the Champions League, as if anyone doubted they might fall short.

It ended, equally predictably with a home win, Manchester City’s 14th of the season, but the match was played out to some disgruntled rumblings and the odd shout that City had their minds on other things.

Certainly, the night did not drain them as it drained and exhausted Wigan, their opponents in Saturday’s FA Cup final, and in the first half the now-deposed champions were both superior and committed.

However, you could have said the same of West Bromwich Albion after the interval when they struck the frame of the goal and forced Joe Hart, who will make way for Costel Pantilimon for the FA Cup final, into several reaction saves. Given the way he commanded his area, it seemed more than a calculated risk.

The presence of the FA Cup could be felt everywhere inside the Etihad Stadium. It was not just in the pictures of young supporters holding up Wembley tickets but the fact that there were plenty of empty seats and that City’s manager, Roberto Mancini, made eight changes from the side that drew tamely and goallessly at Swansea.

The bulk of Mancini’s Cup final side was either on the bench or in the directors’ box. However, it was perhaps  typical of the man that, although he was the only one whose Wembley place was absolutely guaranteed, Carlos Tevez looked utterly driven by what appeared a routine assignment.

He had already slammed a shot against the bar when, taking the ball from Jack Rodwell, the Argentine pounded down the right flank to deliver a cross that Edin Dzeko met on the volley. Boaz Myhill got a hand to it but nothing more.

It was Dzeko’s 13th league goal of the season and his third against West Bromwich. The move began with Samir Nasri wrestling the ball from Youssouf Mulumbu, displaying the kind of grit with which he is not usually associated. To those on the pitch, this mattered. It might have been settled before the interval. James Milner, like Tevez, will probably play on Saturday, but the Yorkshireman has never taken starting places for granted.

He could have scored twice before half-time, once when Dzeko flicked on Nasri’s corner and Milner, almost unmarked, somehow screwed the shot wide. The other was a drive from outside the area that struck the post.

If this suggests that West Bromwich were here to accept their fate as bit-part players, it would be wrong. When the fixtures came out in June there would have been a sharp intake of breath that two of their final three games would be against Manchester clubs.

Steve Clarke’s side have performed well enough to make that a mere footnote to their campaign. With Romelu Lukaku forging three early chances, they began the more confident side and in the opening exchanges after the interval Marcus Rosenberg sent a free-kick against Hart’s crossbar.

Gabriel Tamas, certainly, would remember this game if only for the stitches in the head wound inflicted by Aleksandar Kolarov’s studs. There was plenty of blood on his face and, from his team-mates, no little guts.

Man of the match Tevez.

Match rating 6/10.

Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Attendance 46,158.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own