West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester City: Aguero brace ends Guardiola barren run
Sergio Aguero’s brace ended Pep Guardiola’s worst run as a manager as Manchester City turned on the style with a 4-0 win at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Aguero has been linked with a move away from City after being dropped for a Champions League tie at Barcelona recently, but he underlined his value with clinical first-half goals at the Hawthorns.
The Argentine forward, who had gone six games without a goal, then turned provider for Ilkay Gundogan on 79 minutes before the latter sealed it in the closing moments.
Victory ended City’s six-match winless run in all competitions and was the perfect preparation for their Champions League clash with Guardiola’s former side Barcelona on Tuesday.
City, who made eight changes from Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the League Cup, rarely looked in danger and controlled much of the game as they matched their biggest Premier League win of the season.
West Brom forced the first opening when Nacer Chadli’s first-time effort swerved away from goal after Craig Dawson won the ball on the byline and Salomon Rondon teed him up.
City responded with a floated effort from Raheem Sterling that forced a save from Ben Foster and the visitors had the ball in the net in the ninth minute when Aguero squared for Nolito to tap home, but the effort was ruled out for offside.
City began to exert control and forced two chances in quick succession.
First Sterling tested Foster with a fierce volley that was palmed away, then John Stones produced a glaring miss after being left free from Nolito’s cross, firing wide from five yards out.
Given the pressure from the visitors, it was no surprise when City took the lead.
Gundogan split the Baggies defence as Aguero peeled off his man and slotted home across Foster from an acute angle.
– Thumping strike –
Aguero was in superb form and set up the next chance when he robbed Darren Fletcher in midfield and fed Gundogan, whose pass released Nolito.
His shot beat Foster but hit Gareth McAuley in front of the line.
City fans didn’t have to wait long for a second goal as Aguero claimed his 13th of the season.
It was a thumping strike to live long in the memory as he took advantage of some sloppy passing from Dawson and Fletcher just outside the Albion box to rifle an unstoppable drive into the top corner of the net.
Two minutes after the break, David Silva’s skidding left-foot drive clipped Nolito and deflected just wide.
Gundogan was next to try his luck when he attempted to pick his spot inside the box, but his side-footed effort trickled wide.
West Brom made a double substitution six minutes after the break when Jonathan Leko and James Morrison replaced Jonas Olsson and Fletcher.
Chris Brunt set up Rondon with a pass that had keeper Claudio Bravo racing to the edge of his area and Rondon, West Brom’s record signing, then headed narrowly wide.
But City were always a threat and Sterling screwed his shot over after some pinball in the Albion box.
West Brom should have scored in the 72nd minute but Rondon miscued from six yards out after James McClean broke down the left and crossed low into the box.
City ended any faint hopes of a Baggies comeback 11 minutes from time when Aguero produced a lovely dink over the defence to beat the offside trap for Gundogan to slot home.
Gundogan added a fourth on 90 minutes when he stroked home first time after substitute Kevin De Bruyne broke down the left and crossed.