Manchester City 3 West Brom 1 match report: Injury to David Silva adds woe and worry to as City retain Premier League title hopes

City are running out of big players as they are running out of time

The Etihad Stadium

No team that has won a championship with the last kick of a season will ever give up a pursuit and yet the most poignant sight of this match was not the scoreboard recording a comfortable victory but that of David Silva being carried off on a stretcher.

The potentially fatal 3-2 defeat at Liverpool had cost Manchester City the powerful presence of Yaya Touré but there has been nothing that has propelled their title challenge more than Silva’s lightning feet.

The boy from the Canary Islands had been nursing his ankle when it appeared to be clipped by Morgan Amalfitano and he was taken off after 69 minutes with chants of his name surging around the stadium. Sergio Aguero had already been withdrawn and it seems that City are running out of big players as they are running out of time.

Their manager, Manuel Pellegrini, is still in that curious situation of being reliant on Jose Mourinho, a man he despises, conjuring up a victory at Anfield to keep his own ambitions alive. Somehow, it appears unlikely.

The crowd that had cheered Silva off was fraught and nervous towards the end last night as a West Bromwich Albion side that has consistently played better than its Premier League position drove forward. The moments before kick-off when they had sung songs about David Moyes and held banners pleading for him to stay seemed quite distant.

The last time it was revealed Manchester United had decided to change manager, City were involved in a night match at home against West Bromwich Albion. They were playing for nothing: the title had been lost and there was just the FA Cup final left to salvage the season. When Roberto Mancini lost it to Wigan Athletic, the men from Abu Dhabi decided to make some managerial changes of their own.

Pellegrini will probably not lose his job should City fail for a second successive time to win the silverware their money demands – although these days who can tell? Like Chelsea, it is likely City will not be able to see the name Sunderland without wincing.

Yet the late error from the Sunderland keeper, Vito Mannone, in their 2-2 draw last Wednesday had given City something to cling to and now they went for an early knockout, two up after 10 minutes, 3-1 up by the interval.

Despite their position teetering on the edge of the relegation zone, West Bromwich have a good record against the leading clubs. They had won spectacularly at Old Trafford on their last visit to Manchester – although that seemed a better result then than it does now – and, bar City, had taken points off every club above United.

From early on, it appeared clear West Bromwich would not be adding City to that collection. Had Aguero remained fully fit for the second half of the season Pellegrini’s side might have maintained the astonishing momentum that had brought up 100 goals by 18 January. Now, when it was almost too late, he intervened decisively.

The Etihad had not properly settled down when the first arrived. A cross from Samir Nasri was cleared by Liam Ridgewell, Aguero’s shot was brilliantly parried one-handed by Ben Foster and Pablo Zabaleta headed goalwards. Craig Dawson made a balletic attempt to clear it but ended up in the goal with the ball.

Then came a display of marksmanship from Aguero that belied suggestions that he, like many of Pellegrini’s men, was weighed down by tiredness.

After a one-two with Nasri had broken down on the edge of the area, he looked up, like a hunter spotting a deer in a thicket, and shot, curling the ball past Edin Dzeko as he did so. Foster must have seen the ball very late and within a heartbeat it was past him.

Two Argentines had already found the net and in the 36th minute it was time for Martin Demichelis to add his name to the boys from Buenos Aires and Quilmes. That it was a simple goal could be gauged from the reactions of Foster and Jonas Olsson, who was supposed to be marking the scorer. After Nasri’s corner, headed on by Javi Garcia, had fallen at Demichelis’s feet, both defender and goalkeeper punched the air with anger and frustration.

Yet if this suggests that West Bromwich were sacrificial Easter lambs skipping into a Mancunian abattoir, they were not. It says everything about Pepe Mel’s team that they had scored six times in their previous two matches and picked up a bare couple of points.

They may have kept one clean sheet in 15 attempts but they can attack and Stéphane Sessègnon, a player whose confidence with a ball belies his shyness off the field, probed the many cracks in Pellegrini’s back four.

To all reasonable logic, City should have had the game won after 10 minutes but then the looseness that had cost them against Sunderland reappeared.

A free-kick routine between David Silva and Fernandinho was farcically screwed up and then Zabaleta lost possession to Ridgewell to begin a wonderful, flowing counter-attack that finished with Graham Dorrans taking the ball sublimely past Gaël Clichy and clipping it beyond Joe Hart. The contest was not over but any City supporter who had been in these seats on the afternoon they won the Premier League would know it is sometimes the final kick that counts.

Match details

Manchester City: Hart, Aguero, Dzeko, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Fernandinho, Garcia, Nasri, Silva, Kompany, Clichy

WBA: Foster, Ridgewell Olsson Dawson, Brunt, Dorrans, Mulumbu, Amalfitano, Jones, Sessegnon, Vydra

Subs: Man City Jovetic (Agüero, 64), Milner (Silva, 70), Kolarov (Dzeko, 89).

West Brom Anichebe (Vydra, 60), Berahino (Sessègnon, 76), Morrison (Mulumbu, 84).

Goals. Manchester City: Zabaleta 3, Aguero 10, Demichelis 36

West Bromwich Albion: Dorrans 16

Booked: Man City Demichelis

West Brom Dawson

Man of the match Nasri

Match rating 7/10

Possession: Man City 69% West Brom 31%.

Atts on target: Man City 6 West Brom 3.

Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire)

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits