Match Report: Edin Dzeko late show seals win for 10-man Manchester City against West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion 1 Manchester City 2

The Hawthorns

Roberto Mancini on his knees, Samir Nasri screaming at the  referee to blow... welcome to the defence of your title, fellas.

Manchester City discovered in this marvellous, old footballing theatre the meaning of that Premier League victory back in May.

Mancini was close to immolation on the touchline as West Bromwich Albion swarmed the City box in search of a little home comfort at the death. This game had turned upside down in 12 lusty minutes. To give up the bounty then would have been too much.

Until the introduction of Edin Dzeko, City were chasing a game they had dominated despite playing with 10 men since the 20th minute following the dismissal of James Milner.

West Brom lined up at home with only Shane Long up front, nicked the lead against the run of play and looked set to pull off the ambush. Dzeko is a paid-up member of City lore following his role in bringing the title to the Etihad in that incredible denouemnent. Yesterday he was again blazing from the bench to script another fantasy finale.

First a header a minute after replacing Mario Balotelli, then a curling effort into the bottom  corner, immediately after Joe Hart had tipped Romelu Lukaku’s overhead kick over the bar, to send the blue-clad fans behind the goal into raptures. “That’s why we are champions,” they sang. Indeed so.

There was still four minutes of added time to endure and City lived every second twice over. Mancini was voiceless at the close so much of himself had he spent. It was left to first-team coach David Platt to explain the value of three mighty points on a day when Chelsea won at Tottenham and neighbours United swept past Stoke.

“You don’t win the league without spirit,” Platt said. “We dug in last season and won the last six games. It is nice to take three points. You can’t drop that many if you want to win championships, but we don’t feel we have nicked the result here.”

Platt was right. City deserved the points. Milner’s red card was justified for his lunging tackle on Long, but that did not affect the rhythm of the game. Steve Clarke, the West Brom manager, has covered a deal of ground at the Hawthorns this season. The next leap must be to ditch the deference when the big teams come to town.

West Brom were only a threat after Peter Odemwingie’s introduction on the hour. It was his misfire that rolled into the path of Long to sidefoot his side into a fortunate lead.

The game was always fractious with five bookings alongside Milner’s red. One of those was collected by Balotelli, who was engaged in full “Super Mario” mood. Platt let slip that City considered his withdrawal at half-time, so stoked was he. But in this form Balotelli is too good to be cast aside. Yaya Touré was another in epic mode, a monster in ballet shoes rampaging up the middle with that characteristic swagger.

Yet despite all this City needed a Mancini masterstroke, replacing  Balotelli with Dzeko with 12 minutes remaining. Sixty seconds later city were level. “Dzeko is always a goal threat,” Platt said. “Among the goals he has scored for City, there are a lot of heavy, important ones in there. To win the league Aguero’s goal will always be the one, but his was the equaliser that made it possible,” 

West Brom, the first team to stop City scoring on the road in this fixture last season, chose to emulate the England team and cede ground and space to the visitors, the footballing equivalent of doffing your cap. Clarke felt it was justified.

“I thought we played well, stood up to Man City,” he said. “They showed when they went to 10 men why they are champions. We play the way we play. I don’t think selection was the reason we didn’t get anything from the game. Maybe it was a bad decision to go chasing the winner and it was disappointing to lose like that in the end.”

As well as late drama, the game threw up some international pointers. The first relates to Milner, who, while he was on the pitch, was deployed in a position that best suits his talents. Mancini played him alongside Gareth Barry in front of the City back four, where his industry and pluck allowed him to shine until exposed for the sending off by a rare error from Vincent Kompany.

Mancini was effectively telling Roy Hodgson that Milner is no winger. If the England manager was watching he will have noted also a storming display at right-back from Micah Richards. Resolute in defence, vibrant in attack, there can be no reason for his continued in international exclusion.

West Bromwich (4-2-3-1): Foster; Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob; Morrison (Gera, 72), Dorrans (Odemwinge, 63), Fortune; Long (Lukaku, 82)

Manchester City (4-2-1-3): Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Barry (Dzeko, 78), Milner, Y.Touré, Tevez (Kolarov, 82), Nasri, Balotelli (Aguero, 63)

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Man of the match: Dzeko (Manchester City)

Match rating: 7/10

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn