Match Report: Europe is still the missing ingredient as Manchester City gain over West Brom from what Roberto Mancini leaves out

West Bromwich Albion 1 Manchester City 2

This was an easy one for David Platt, three points on the road at the end of international week, he could talk all day about that. With 12 minutes to go his boss, Roberto Mancini, was singing from a different sheet. Manchester City were a goal and a man down and the West Bromwich substitute Peter Odemwingie was threatening hell and damnation down the left.

Who knows whether Mancini is great, or lucky, or both? The resource weighted in his favour mitigates against a definitive judgement. What we do know is, in times of difficulty, he can whistle to the bench and replace one multimillion superstar with another. Hey presto, the champions turned calamity on its head and dumped the disappointment at Steve Clarke's door.

But that does not tell the whole story. Mancini returns to Champions League combat this week in Amsterdam needing to demonstrate progress is being made at the Etihad. Defeat in Madrid, and a fortunate home draw against Dortmund, do not look great on paper. On the pitch, City were second best in both encounters. At The Hawthorns, they dominated even with 10 men and, though Odemwingie's introduction shifted the balance, City could respond.

In this environment, City expect to win. West Bromwich shared that view as demonstrated by a line-up with only Shane Long up front. This morning, Steve Clarke occupies sixth place, a spot he would die for come next May. In the end, this was a classic ambush avoided by Mancini, his biggest headache being which ego to disappoint with the team sheet.

Edin Dzeko's two-goal riposte to being left out advances his claims for the visit to Ajax. It is a problem Platt welcomes. "By coming on and getting two goals, when you start looking at your next game, he goes right to the forefront of your mind," he said. "A lot is made of players here being left out of the team – Lescott, Kolarov, against Sunderland, Aguero, Nasri on the bench. What they should do when they come on the pitch is perform in a way which says, 'It will be tough for you to leave me out in the next game, or the one after that.'

"But there's a great deal more to our team selection than what we think our best 11 is today – travel, what they've played before, the opposition etc. It was evident in the dressing room afterwards there were players who didn't get on the pitch as buoyed and happy as those who did. The manager has to pick 11 players but his biggest headache, the thing he hates the most, is leaving 11 players out."

Clarke is unapologetic about setting his team up defensively in this company. He understands his side's present position is unlikely to endure. Introducing Odemwingie presents his defensive rationale with a real challenge. West Bromwich were far more threatening, and City under greater duress, with the attacking flair Odemwingie brought. The result is misleading in that regard. Just because West Bromwich lost to City here does not mean defending deep against them, or anyone else, ensures the best chance of a result next time.

Clarke insisted: "We keep the same focus and targets, we know we need to make sure we're in this league next year. People can see we're progressing and we take the compliments."

Clarke believes City will retain their crown. There was a solidity and belief about them which suggests he might be right. This was a game they might have lost against a team in form. That they didn't was a result of a deep squad but also confidence and belief.

Ajax are next. This is City's next step in their rise towards Europe's top table, to negotiate the Champions League as easily as the Premier League.

Match facts



Goals: WBA Long 67. Manchester City Dzeko 80, 90. Substitutes: WBA Odemwingie 7 (Dorrans, 63), Gera (Morrison, 72), Lukaku (Long, 81). Man City Aguero 7 (Balotelli, 63), Dzeko 8 (Barry, 79), Kolarov (Tevez, 82). Booked: WBA Long, Tamas, Yacob, Fortuné. Man C Balotelli, Y Touré, Dzeko. Sent off: Man C Milner (23). Man of match Dzeko. Match rating 7/10. Poss: WBA 39%. Man C 61%. Attempts on target: WBA 8. Man C 13. Referee M Clattenburg (Co Durham). Att 24,891

Champions League: eye on the opposition

* Ajax's preparations for Wednesday's Group D visit of Manchester City ended in disappointment, after two late goals held the champions to a 3-3 draw at Heracles. A Ben Rienstra own goal and a strike from Lasse Schöne gave Frank de Boer's side a two-goal interval advantage, before Mike te Wierik halved the deficit on the hour. Tobias Sana immediately restored Ajax's two-goal superiority, only for goals in the final 10 minutes from Thomas Bruns and Luis Pedro to earn the hosts a point and give Ajax, still unbeaten, a fifth league draw from nine matches.TOM PARFITT

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power