Belfast Telegraph

Man City cruise past Baggies as Zabaleta says goodbye

Man City 3 - West Brom 1

By Andy Hampson

Pablo Zabaleta bid an emotional farewell to the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City cruised to a 3-1 win against West Brom.

The Argentinian full-back announced on Saturday that his nine-year spell at the club - which included 333 appearances - would come to an end when his contract expired this summer.

He received a hero's welcome when he came on for the last 30 minutes of the win over the Baggies.

Goals from Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and Yaya Toure saw City cruise to victory.

West Brom were outplayed but claimed a late consolation through substitute Hal Robson-Kanu.

The result tightened City's grip on a top-four position but Arsenal's victory over Sunderland meant their close battle with the Gunners and Liverpool for Champions League spots would go to the final day.

The opener came after 27 minutes as Sergio Aguero brilliantly flicked a Toure pass into the path of De Bruyne, who teed up a simple finish for Jesus.

De Bruyne doubled the lead with a composed strike from the edge of the box after Marc Wilson had intercepted a pass from Aguero.

City claimed a third after 57 minutes when Toure played a one-two with Aguero and charged into the box to shoot low past Foster.

However it was West Brom who had the final word when Robson-Kanu turned in from Allan Nyom's cross.

Speaking after the game about his decision to leave Man City, Zabaleta said: "In life at times you have to make tough decisions and I always think the best for myself, for the family and for the club especially.

"I feel it's the right time for me to go on but believe me, I love this club so much.

"Thank you to the fans, to everyone...because they made me a better player and a better person and it was a big pleasure to play for the shirt.

"It was so tough to play that half-an-hour. So many emotions, moments, all the good memories came to my mind but like I said before it is something that I'm so proud of.

"What I have done for the club is just what every single player should do for the team they are playing for.

"So proud to have been (involved) in probably the most successful period in City's history, so thanks so much," the Argentine added.

MAN CITY: Caballero, Fernandinho, Kompany (Stones 77), Otamendi, Kolarov, Y Touré (Fernando 81), Jesus, De Bruyne, Silva (Zabaleta 62), Sané, Agüero. Subs: Sterling, Jesús Navas, Clichy, Gunn

Scorers: Jesus (27), De Bruyne (29), Touré (57)

WEST BROM: Foster, Nyom, Dawson, Evans, M Wilson (McClean 52), Yacob, Chadli, Fletcher, Livermore (Morrison 65), Brunt, Rondón (Robson-Kanu 71). Subs: Myhill, Leko, Field, Wilson

Scorer: Robson-Kanu (87)

Referee: Craig Pawson

Man of match: Match rating: 6/10

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