Manchester City end insipid away run with narrow win at West Brom

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The hope will be that a sizeable monkey is off Manchester City's back with what is only their second away win of the season. There was a jittery finish as West Bromwich Albion scored two late goals though even then the result hardly felt in doubt.

As Manuel Pellegrini said: "It was not as close a match as the score says but all of us were maybe thinking of the next game before we had finished this one and in football you are never finished. They scored two goals in last four minutes and that's why it's 3-2."

With Vincent Kompany completing a first game since early October owing to a thigh injury this was a satisfying evening for the manager. "It was very important – he is our captain and he played with no problems during the 90 minutes."

Before coasting to these three points against a largely insipid West Brom, City's record away from home was four defeats and a draw to go with the lone victory, the 3-1 triumph at West Ham United two months ago.

Delays on the M6 meant the match began a quarter of an hour late. The surprise team news came in Pellegrini's decision not to start with Álvaro Negredo, the Spaniard who is flying through a debut season for City, having accrued 15 goals.

It was his replacement Edin Dzeko who proved the linkman in City's opener. The forward slid the ball to Pablo Zabaleta before the right-back pulled it back for Sergio Agüero to slot an outstanding 17th goal in 18 appearances past a helpless Boaz Myhill.

City's second arrived on 24 minutes and was the latest illustration of the fast and thrilling play that can be the division's most attractive. Agüero began the move. He passed to the rejuvenated Samir Nasri who pin-balled possession on to Aleksandar Kolorov. The left-back, in for Gaël Clichy who was apparently not injured but not among the reserves, weighted a perfect delivery for Yaya Touré and he made it 2-0.

During the opening stanza any threat Steve Clarke's team carried came from aiming direct balls in on Costel Pantilimon's goal. Only once did this concern the visiting defence – when Zabaleta dallied in the area but a cool touch allowed him and Kompany to clear the danger.

West Brom certainly began the second half like they believed and gave City a scare when Chris Foy turned down a loud penalty appeal after Shane Long went down following a coming together with Kompany. Moments later, Long again fell in the area when Martín Demichelis challenged him but this was less of a close call.

It was Touré who scored from the spot, his penalty following Claudio Yacob's foul on Kolarov, confirming the win. Then came what proved only consolations for West Brom through Pantilimon's late own goal before Victor Anichebe's finish in added time.

It is just under a year since City managed consecutive league wins on the road, last December's 4-3 victory at Norwich City and the 2-0 win at Arsenal in January. They can now end that sequence at Southampton on Saturday. Pellegrini said: "For our team it was very important to try to win away and we will try and do that also on Saturday before we play Arsenal at home [the following weekend]."

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