Manchester City vs West Brom match report: Samir Nasri scores on his return to shore up top-four spot

Manchester City 2 West Bromwich Albion 1

Pete Oliver
Saturday 09 April 2016 19:54
Samir Nasri is congratulated on his goal
Samir Nasri is congratulated on his goal

Manchester City may not have to win the Champions League to qualify for the tournament again next season after coming from behind to secure the three points that shored up their top-four place in the Premier League.

Another slip-up at home would have opened the door further for Manchester United to sneak into the qualification places - and theirs is not a forlorn hope yet.

But Samir Nasri’s winning goal on only his second Premier League start of an injury-wrecked season means City still have some breathing space and are now only two points behind third-placed Arsenal ahead of the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Paris St-Germain next Tuesday night.

City had made five changes to the side that drew 2-2 in Paris to make them favourites to progress as manager Manuel Pellegrini tried to balance his resources, with Kevin de Bruyne among those given a breather on the substitute’s bench alongside the fit-again Yaya Toure.

But they could not have envisaged going behind after just five minutes to side that had won just one of its last 10 away games in the Premier League.

Only second-from bottom Newcastle had managed fewer than West Brom’s return of 11 goals away from home but defying the statistics, the Baggies went ahead in style.

They had an element of good fortune as City lost possession via an inadvertent block by referee Michael Jones but the counter-attack was lethal as James McClean was given a chance to cross deep for Sessegnon to drill a fierce 20-yard shot past a static Joe Hart.

Sessegnon’s second goal of the season immediately posed questions of a City side which, remarkably, had failed to win back-to-back league games since last October.

A couple of dangerous crosses from Aleksandar Kolarov came to nought but when the full-back entered the penalty area again with 18 minutes gone, a mis-placed tackle from Sessegnon conceded a spot-kick which was converted by Sergio Aguero to level the scores with his 18th league goal of the season.

That calmed the home side but did little more as Pellegrini’s men, who had lost three of their last four home league games, again looked pedestrian and devoid of a cutting edge against a West Brom side quick to get most of their players behind the ball but which also continued to look lively on the break.

Substitute Craig Gardner dragged a shot wide with arguably the best chance of the remainder of the first half and with an hour gone Pellegrini had seen enough.

Aguero had forced Ben Foster into his first save of the afternoon but City needed to survive a penalty appeal when the clumsy Eliaquim Mangala barged Sandro in the back before the City boss sent on De Bruyne and Toure to try and spark some improvement.

And the impact was immediate as De Bruyne, in particular, lifted the crowd and his team-mates and played a part in the winning goal which Nasri tapped in on his first start since September following a serious thigh injury after Aguero’s effort had been blocked.

Aguero could then have added a third but City also had further scares before setting their sights back on Europe as Saido Berahino was allowed to shoot badly wide after he should have been flagged for off-side and McClean missed by a whisker with the last kick of the game following an injury-time corner.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Otamendi, Mangala, Kolarov; Navas, Fernando, Delph (Toure 60), Nasri; Aguero (Clichy 89), Bony (De Bruyne 60).

Subs: Caballero, Clichy, Fernandinho, Demichelis, Iheanacho.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Chester; Sessegnon (Leko 80), Sandro, Fletcher, McClean; Berahino, Rondon (Gardner 21).

Subs: Myhill, Olsson, Yacob, McManaman, Anichebe.

Referee: Michael Jones

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