Belfast Telegraph

Slick Manchester City throw down the gauntlet to their rivals

West Brom 0-3 Man City

By Nick Mashiter

Manchester City got their Premier League title challenge up and running with a comfortable 3-0 win at West Brom thanks to their old favourites.

The spotlight was on new £49m man Raheem Sterling, but it was David Silva and Yaya Toure who stole the show to help ease City to three points.

Toure was influential in City's first two goals, first producing a shot which was flicked by Silva and then deflected off Baggies defender Craig Dawson on its way in and the second a fine finish before the 25-minute mark.

Vincent Kompany then completed a comfortable triumph for the visitors just before the hour.

City, and their old guard, were too strong for West Brom, who struggled to cope with their opponent's dominance during most of the game, as they saw Saido Berahino waste their best chance of the evening.

Sterling, City's big signing of the summer from Liverpool, should have also marked his debut with a goal, but he was denied by Boaz Myhill when clean through.

The 20-year-old started in attack in support of Wilfried Bony, with Sergio Aguero on the bench after his Copa America duties with Argentina during the off-season.

Albion handed debuts to Rickie Lambert, James Chester and James McClean.

Their new £12m record buy Salomon Rondon was unveiled to the crowd hours after signing from Zenit St Petersburg, along with Arsenal loanee Serge Gnabry.

And the new boys would have watched in horror as City dismantled their hosts in the opening period.

After finishing a disappointing second behind Chelsea in last season's Premier League title race, City looked determined to set down an early marker and they did just that within the first half an hour.

They had threatened without testing Myhill, but deservedly took the lead after nine minutes with a goal which happened almost in slow motion.

Silva had already gone close as his cross found the waiting Jesus Navas at the far post and he teed up Toure on the edge of the box.

The midfielder was gifted the time to shoot and his low mis-hit effort was flicked on by Silva before hitting the helpless Dawson and crawling across the line.

City had settled and were toying with the Baggies, keeping the ball and trying to find the perfect pass to carve them open.

Albion, in contrast, relied on hopeful long balls as England internationals Berahino and Lambert became increasingly isolated.

The visitors were already in total control and they underlined their dominance in ruthless fashion after 24 minutes.

This time there was no doubt over the scorer as Toure swapped passes with his fellow Ivory Coast international Bony before unleashing an unstoppable effort into the top corner from 20 yards.

Toure had come in for criticism throughout last season, with claims that his best days were in the past, but this performance went some way to silencing any remaining doubters.

City kept Albion at bay until three minutes from half-time, when after a slick attacking move Berahino clipped over Joe Hart only to be ruled offside.

A minute before, though, Sterling should have marked his debut with a goal when Toure put him clean through on Myhill, but the Baggies goalkeeper saved his low weak effort.

It would have ended the game but, instead, the hosts emerged for the second period with renewed belief and Claudio Yacob replaced Republic of Ireland international McClean in a bid to bolster the midfield.

First, Lambert's 30-yard free-kick whistled over before Berahino's tame finish fell to the under-worked Hart.

The striker should have done better and was left to rue the miss when City made it 3-0 in the 59th minute as Kompany glanced in Silva's corner with his shoulder.

The contest was over and the visitors had the luxury of bringing Aguero off the bench to gain a few minutes, while Samir Nasri also came on, replacing Sterling.

Hart gathered James Morrison's header with 14 minutes left but there was no way back for the Baggies.

Aguero almost added a fourth with two minutes remaining, but his low six-yard effort was well blocked by the busy Myhill before the goalkeeper saved Aleksandar Kolarov's stoppage-time free-kick.


Belfast Telegraph


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